Communications and security product and solutions provider Westcon Group is looking to grow its base of service and solutions providers in Canada as the global company continues its expansion into digital distribution and cloud services.
With a presence in about 70 countries, Westcon’s future growth now lies in carving out its own territory in the cloud, says Dolph Westerbos, CEO of the New York-based company which also has several offices across Canada.
“Our future growth is not in geographic presence but around cloud, digital distribution and Infrastructure -as-a-service solutions…value added services like professional service and deploying technical support line NOC (network operations centre) and SOC (security operations centre) monitoring,” he told CDN during a recent visit to Toronto.
(Left to right: Siobhan Byron, Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy and Dolph Westerbos)
Westerbos, who joined Westcom last December was in Canada this week to meet with the company’s customers and partners and as he said to “get a validation” of the company’s push to the cloud and “get a sense of where we excel and where we need help.”
Prior to heading Westcon, Westerbos was group president of global strategy and marketing at pooling solutions company Brambles Ltd. He also held a series of executive positions at Dell Inc.
It is vital to help Westcon’s Canadian reseller channel to make the move to and IT-as-service model “because so many of our reseller customers, like Westcon, have a more traditional model,” said Westerbos.
For example, while the unified communications and collaborations (UCC) has been a profitable and steady market for Westcon, the market for more traditional voice solutions are changing as more companies look for collaboration solutions.
This new space, Westerbos said, offers major opportunities for managed services providers (MSPs).
“A lot of customers are looking for service solutions and so we are not only looking for innovative providers in the traditional software and hardware space, but also partnerships with MSPs around those services,” he said. ”…in Canada, we’re looking for more service providers.”
A key focus now of Westcon is re-invigorating its vetting process for channel partners, according to Siobhan Byron, vice-president and general manager of Westcon Canada.
“One of the initiatives we have internally is the incubation initiative that allows us to take a close look at up and coming vendors and do an analysis of them,” she said. “We need to find out if the timing is right for them to make the move to digital distribution. We want to know if they are offering the right solutions that our partners will value. Are they bringing a new perspective?”
Westcon has been doing this before but in a less structured way.
“Now we have a real-focused incubation system because we see that we need to be constantly looking for how we can enable our partners and do that due diligence for them,” she added.
What type of partners is Westcon looking for?
Byron cited Smart Technologies of Calgary which early this year signed a global distribution agreement with Westcon. The partnership makes Westcon the global distributor for Smart Technologies’ collaboration solutions for meeting rooms and enterprise solutions.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth with them and a lot of opportunity,” said Byron.
In the last eight months, Westcon also added FireEye Inc., a United States-based network security specialist, to its list of partners. Under the deal, Westcon will offer FireEye’s virtual machine-based security platform which is designed to guard against attacks that circumvent traditional signature-based defences.
In September last year, Westcon’s Comstor unit also signed a partnership with collab9, a hosted collaboration company whose secure next-generation cloud-based communications solutions is built on Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) platform. That same month, Comstor also signed a distribution agreement with PeakColo, an IaaS cloud service provider to channel partners.
Both deals enable North American resellers easily access Cisco collaboration technologies and develop additional revenue streams by white labeling these offerings to customers.
The strategy leads to the creation of an ecosystem where Westcon’s partners and customers also become the company’s vendors, said Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy, Westcon’s executive vice-president for North America.
“A new set of vendors is emerging,” she said. “They are those either born in the cloud or traditional service providers now looking for a channel to sell their managed service, UC-as-a-service, or infrastructure-as-a-service. And it’s being delivered by service providers.”