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Avnet tackles the great divide

Avnet tackles the great divide 

On August 1, 2015, HP will embark on a journey that will see the organization divide into two separate companies. The move, which was announced late last year, will directly affect all aspects of HP’s operations and product development. Most importantly, it will affect the company’s global customer and partner base.

Avnet, winner of this year’s HP Canadian Distributor Partner of the Year award, is one of many partners that will feel the effects of the separation, but they are prepared to tackle these changes head-on. Brian Aebig, vice president and general manager of Avnet’s Canadian division, shared his thoughts on the split, Avnet’s approach to it, and how it will affect the channel this year.

IT in Canada: Why did Avnet choose to partner with HP Canada?
We have been a partner of HP and its predecessors going back to DEC and Compaq. Within Avnet Technology Solutions, we have always been a value-based, solution-oriented distributor, and that falls in the area that HP spans.

We focus entirely on HP EG and the PPC (divisions). That said, the areas in which Avnet can create value through the stakeholders of a supply chain is where we tend to focus our energy. HP is one of our longest and deepest relationships in Canada.

ITIC: How does it feel to receive such a prestigious honour from HP?
This is the second year in a row that we’ve won HP’s Canadian Distributor Partner of the Year award. It speaks volumes not only about the scale and scope of the things we do around that value-oriented solutions stable, but also the consistency and predictability with which we do it.

Winning (the award) once was fantastic; winning it twice was an affirmation of all the things we’re doing on their behalf to provide them with added reach into the VAR community to get through to those end users and drive those enterprise solutions.

ITIC: How has Avnet benefited from partnering with HP?
The breadth of the portfolio HP has is second to none. We have the ability to have an HP solution on almost any enterprise class solution, be that storage, servers, networking, software, converged solutions, cloud, and so on. As the market evolves, HP is at the forefront of that evolution, and we are at the forefront of HP’s distribution.

ITIC: In which areas have Canadian HP partners grown over the past year?
It’s a bit of a mixed bag. We have some partners that are very specific and focused on a given area, and that’s where they enjoy their growth. We have others that are a bit more cross-brand, and so you see the highs and lows of what the market is doing and of what that particular reseller is trying to focus on.

Right now, servers and storage continue to be a strong play for Avnet in Canada. What we’re also seeing is the slow emergence of cloud, and what that means in terms of the long-term move from storage to perhaps storage as a service. We’re preparing ourselves and the channel for what that market opportunity looks like.

ITIC: What challenges are resellers facing today?
The challenges they are facing are numerous. We have many partners that are still very much second platform technology-thinking organizations, and the move to a third platform driving different kinds of solutions into Big Data, mobility and security is still a bit foreign. It’s a transformation of their business to become as value-rich in the third platform as they have been historically in the second platform. That’s the single biggest challenge.

Part of that equation is as you make that transition from the second to the third platform, you also have to think differently about the economics associated with that, such as how consumption models change and how technology gets consumed. It’s a bit of a perfect storm in the value-based activities that a reseller has to think about being good at. They add value to a supplier as well as an end user, and they recognize that that end user is likely to consume it differently.

ITIC: How will HP’s separation affect Avnet?
We clearly play on one side of the household. We are a value distributor, so the breaking of HP into two separate pieces is something I’m encouraged by because we will get 100 per cent attention by those enterprise people instead of perhaps an enterprise message being watered down by a broader HP portfolio.

You will see the investments that HP makes in its value-based enterprise business be in a sweet spot where Avnet can add value.

ITIC: What is your outlook for the channel in 2015?
Sales within the channel will rise, as most of our partners are Canadian-based and therefore don’t have the currency problems that some of the U.S.-headquartered organizations face. Those Canadian organizations are seeing year-over-year growth and will continue to see that growth.

They should be incredibly excited about the opportunity that lies before them to be able to augment traditional hardware sales with professional services pre, during and post-sale.

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