Summer Forum 2022
Arrow prepares partners for as-a-service business
providers on the subject
With Arrow ECS, partners can now purchase equipment on a subscription basis. For Paul Karrer, the head of the distributor in Germany, the offer is very fashionable. The manager considers South Africa and observability to be the next topics that will become more relevant.
IT is increasingly being purchased as a service. That’s where the canal development goes. The provider provides a service for which the customer pays him monthly. Supporting partners with this model has been part of the day-to-day business of an Arrow distributor for years. Now Paul Karrer, Managing Director of Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions (ECS) in Munich, sees the next wave coming. His observations show that not only software and virtual IT resources are offered for rent, but more and more often also equipment, from end devices, through server and memory systems, to firewall devices. “Almost all manufacturers are moving towards subscriptions today. Sellers have to adapt to this. “
This development towards model rental in IT was the topic of the Arrow ECS summer forum in Munich-Riem last week. Karrer jokingly spoke of “Blech as a Service” at the press conference. In June 2021, the distributor with Fortinet was the first manufacturer in Germany to start selling devices on a subscription basis. Other manufacturers from the Arrow portfolio are to follow suit in the future. “The IT industry is currently undergoing a learning phase.” For partners, the challenge is to properly manage the model in terms of contract design and monthly billing. The legal aspects are also important here, as the rented products are treated differently in terms of tax than purchased.
Basically, VAD accompanies partners – as usual in their business – also in the transition to the as-a-service model through training, consulting and a wide range of services. For example, a firewall rental offering developed in partnership with Fortinet includes Arrow technical support services that enable end customers to receive incident assistance and, if required, can be provided with a replacement device within one day. When it comes to monthly billing, according to Karrer, processes can in principle be automated via the Arrowsphere cloud marketplace. However, the platform does not currently support the marketing of hardware offers.
The managing director of Arrow ECS expects to move to the hardware-as-a-service model, especially in the security market. While more and more features are delivered centrally in this cloud segment with concepts like SASE, Karrer continues to expect that “we will continue to see physical devices in the years to come.” Arrow in Germany has focused on security products since the 2013 acquisition of Munich-based Computerlinks. With A-brands such as Check Point, Fortinet, Juniper, Symantec, Trellix (formerly McAfee) and Trend Micro, as well as many other vendors, VAD is one of the leading security distributors in Germany alongside Infinigate.
No upfront investment
The rental offers are used not only by end customers who want to convert their capital expenditure into current operating costs. The subscription model also suits Managed Service Providers (MSPs) who sell not products but services. Because they don’t have to invest upfront in the technology they need to deliver their services. Instead, they pay for it monthly, just like their customers pay them. Arrow has been supporting this partner group in various business units for years. At the beginning of 2020, the distributor created a dedicated SME team, which currently includes 15 experts.
However, the Arrow ECS offering is not limited to security solutions. The distributor’s portfolio in Germany also includes cloud providers such as AWS; Microsoft and Oracle, infrastructure providers as diverse as Citrix, Commvault, Huawei, Red Hat, Quantum, Veeam, and VMware, as well as GPU maker Nvidia and analytics specialist Splunk.
The Arrow Summer Forum was held this year for the first time since 2019. Due to the pandemic, VAD has canceled the event for the last two years. According to the organizer, about 700 partners came to the race track in Riem. In one of the main lectures, Yves Sandfort, CEO of Comdivision, a VMware partner, dealt with the managed services model: “MSP – how to become one and what do you need for it?” Other keynote speakers were Robert Sabo, director of DACH technology at Symantec, and Miriam Bressan, manager of solution architecture at Red Hat.
Automation and observability
In addition to IT as a service, Karrer has listed two other technology concepts that he believes will become more relevant. On the one hand, IT specialists see the growing demand for automation technology in business. Lack of qualified employees forces companies to “continuously automate business processes in order to save time and resources”. That’s why Arrow added California-based Robotized Process Automation (RPA) specialist to its portfolio at the beginning of the year. Thanks to the low-code tools, the applications can be connected relatively easily. However, at the process level, implementing an automation solution is “as complex as deploying ERP,” explained Arrow’s manager. “Enough for partners to do.”
On the other hand, he considers observability to be the key theme of the trend. As organizations become increasingly network dependent as cloud utilization increases, they need to increase their resilience to cyber disruptions and threats. According to Karrer, observability can be helpful. “You have to look at data streams and ensure constant transparency from infrastructure to application.” In this way, network problems can be identified at an early stage so that you can react to them immediately. “You need technology for that.” With a unified approach to observability, the manufacturer of Riverbed strives for such transparency across the web.