Spending time face to face with customers is one of the most insightful parts of my job. Speaking to them over the last few years, I’ve learned a great deal about how their businesses have evolved and transitioning to a “cloud first” methodology. It’s well understood that there is an enormous market opportunity in Cloud, but the ever-growing list of SaaS and PaaS providers means that the number of products/services to be supported is higher than ever. In addition to that, while one of the promises of cloud is simplicity, these services can paradoxically become more complex in nature as end users seek to exploit their benefits to work smarter, faster, and – inevitably - cheaper.
Heads in the cloud
This comes with a challenge for our resellers-cum-service-providers who are at the same time having to tackle a significant skills shortage. As partners transition from servicing on-premise to cloud solutions, the alignment of skills change; for example, instead of having skills aligned to managing the networking, compute or storage in vendor silos, cloud environments typically require a broader knowledge - people who understand all of these areas. The convenience of having large & complex cloud solutions that can be managed through one interface means our IT staff now need to have all the skills necessary to do so. This can be a painful transition for those previously deeply entrenched in a specific technology, and our partners are looking to us to help.
Introducing the CoE
One of the ways we aim to support this transformation is through the creation of our European Cloud Technical Centre of Excellence (CoE for short). A crack team of hardcore techies who support our internal teams and our partners across the region, on a range of topics from leading IaaS platforms to application specific workloads. We have actually been in operation for over 18 months, with countless days and weeks spent training, certifying, advising & generally being a ‘top gun’ support in everything Cloud technology. I’m very proud to be at the head of this group, led day to day by Tiago Fernandes, who add value to our partners every day as both the reseller channel and distribution transform.
The changing role of distribution
That said, from where I sit inside Tech Data, the term “distributor” is an outdated one. We’re very much still in the business of moving tremendous amounts of inventory across the globe, and our traditional partners are very happy with the value we add there, but in the Cloud & Software world we have moved from hardware & software integration, to Aggregation, and are marching quickly towards Orchestration. Our Cloud Solutions practice is an excellent example of this, where we have shipped thousands of readymade, pre-configured & packaged cloud solutions comprising multiple vendors and technologies. Having seen the work that goes in to conceiving, designing, engineering & rolling out these solutions I am impressed by the creativity of our Centre of Excellence and Solutions teams, providing an end result that protects our customers from the time and cost penalty of developing in-house.
Announcing our technical blog for Cloud
It’s one thing for me to be impressed by my own company’s work (self-congratulate much?), but quite another for you my dear reader to feel the same. So that is why I’m happy to announce a series of community updates to come directly from our Centre of Excellence here in Europe. We’ll be sharing our views on a range of topics, from the business-relevant to things that just give us thrills in the tech world. I’d encourage you to get involved, challenge what we say and at the same time let us know if we’re getting it right. We’ll have something out every 2-3 weeks, so watch this space!