Through its position, the distributor is hoping to engage with its reseller community to help them achieve Gold or Silver-level Microsoft certifications with its virtualization solutions including its System Centre Essentials management tools for the midmarket, according to Greg Myers, vice-president of marketing for Tech Data Canada.
“We won this business because of our value-add characteristics,” he said, including its technical team. “Those are capabilities that really no other distributor in Canada brings to the marketplace.”
Tech Data’s investments in testing labs and proof of concept demonstrations were also appealing for Microsoft, according to Andrea Van Leeuwen, director of SMB and distribution for Microsoft Canada. Its Advanced Technology Solutions Centre (ATSC) played a major role in getting the distributor the top spot, according to both Myers and Microsoft. “They’re also committed to internal technical expertise,” Van Leeuwen, said.
“They were looking to expand their business,” she said. “It fit closely with what they were aspiring to do,” she added. “It aligns to their long-term strategy.” This was significant because Microsoft could tell that Tech Data was really committed to the cause, not just experimenting with a market.
“They have breadth in the market,” Van Leeuwen said of Tech Data’s Canadian resellers. “They understand the competitive landscape.”
“They (Tech Data) also have really strong local experience working with SMB partners,” she added. “The enterprise space is more crowded. In midmarket, there’s more of an opportunity to differentiate in the partner ecosystem.”
“We’re working at identifying a select group of partners,” Myers added, or less than 100 to help gain Microsoft certification. Tech Data will be providing “boot camp” style training for its partners to help them achieve Gold or Silver status, according to Myers.
“They’re going to offer hands-on lab training,” Van Leeuwen added.“Partners can get assistance with driving initial sales with getting the first few wins under your belt.”
The opportunity for VARs with this partnership between Tech Data and Microsoft is to begin to offer complete management solutions for mid-size customers, according to Myers. “As much as it’s about virtualizing the server environment and the data centre, if you will, it’s really about managing the entire IT infrastructure,” Myers said.
“We talk to a lot of small resellers who support small end customers,” he said. “Midmarket is a bit of a green field,” but there is a lot of opportunity for resellers to offer upgrade solutions. Many mid-size businesses are still using Windows 95, for example, and are looking for a new solution, he pointed out. “More of these solutions are available for mid-size customers,” he said. “Vendors have scaled the solution architectures so they’re attractive for mid-size businesses.”
Tech Data is also hoping to appoint a business development manager for this partnership by September, according to Myers. While that person has not yet been selected, he said Tech Data will look within the company for the right fit first. “We need someone who understands the partner,” she said. “We also need someone who’s a very strong strategic lead.”