A new wave of opportunity is clear, says Rob McKernan, Senior Vice President, IT Channels for APC by Schneider Electric. It is available to both traditional channels making the move to solutions, and the emerging partners. He says he is very excited by the opportunities and challenges in the coming year or so.
There is a definite shift from two-three years ago, agrees Andy Connor, the UK channel head. Everyone agrees that the market is growing, it is a question of how best to take advantage of the opportunity. “The traditional partners are changing fast, and the process which started about three years ago is now in full flood, with the move to manage data not just at the core of the business, but increasingly at the edge, and using IoT and sensors in a mix of classic technologies and automation,” says Rob McKernan, briefing the media (below).
With a global perspective, Rob McKernan can point to the next wave of trends affecting Europe where particularly the UK follows closely behind the US market. “We can see solutions-selling rising, particularly in hyperconverged data centres and reduced footprint systems, our orders are rising, and our investments in technologies made over the last few years are starting to pay off,” he says. But customers are asking a wide range of questions, which channels have to be in a position to answer. A lot of the APC by Schneider Electric involvement with channels this year will be at events, discussions and roundtables, he says, as they look to enable the channel and educate the market.
Another difference is the way that customers are willing to have their data centres managed by the channel, though they may not yet be quite ready to completely outsource. So the focus for the vendor has been to focus on enabling partners to engage with these new requirements.
“Speed is critical, and we are also seeing different types of partner coming together to meet the customer needs. The ability to sell complex solutions is something that channels have to learn.”
Resources are being made available for this, and alliances with Cisco, and more recently with Nutanix, help round out the offerings. It means the solutions can be designed and configured off-site, speeding the installation and cutting the time spent overall. “The growth of highly complex IT systems necessitates vendors work together to deliver efficiency, standardisation, agility and reliability,” he says. This year will see further progress in technologies, certifications and enablement of channels.