Distributors play a vital role in the IT value chain. They are now the center of a diverse ecosystem that binds vendors and solution providers as they increasingly bring solutions, and not only products, to the channel.
Distributors, who long ago said goodbye to the traditional product-focused model of distribution, are still going through a significant amount of transformation to respond to new technologies and new customer requirements. Solutions to these requirements include mobility, cybersecurity, cloud, hyper-converged infrastructure, big data, machine learning, blockchain, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality, IoT, and everything-as-a-service.
Distributors are playing a big role in increasing the value of both the vendor side and the channel side of IT, especially in terms of vendor planning and marketing, financing, logistics, configuration, and assembly, but also channel program, demand generation, training and post-sales services.
One of the leading distributors in the US in the business is Arrow, particularly their Enterprise Computing Solutions division. Arrow is a Fortune 500 company based in Centennial, Colorado, with revenues of over $25 billion annually. They carry literally millions of technology products, making them available to third-party resellers globally.
I recently caught up with Arrow’s Rich Riddle (Oracle Business manager) and Jackie Eberlin (Inside Sales Manager) and asked them a few questions about today’s market and Arrow’s special relationship with Fujitsu.
Question: How do you see the future of the SPARC/Solaris platform?
Rich Riddle: There are thousands and thousands of customers running the SPARC/Solaris platform and our partners are talking to them every day. The mindset of these customers is “if they ain’t broke, don’t fix them’ and the platform is pretty much bulletproof. Because of this, customers tend to redeploy rather than replace these systems.
Jackie Eberlin: Enterprise customers have a wide variety of systems and platforms within their data centers. SPARC-based systems, while you might not hear as much about them, are still chugging along and still performing mission-critical tasks for enterprises large and small.
Question: What interesting trends do you see in the SPARC/Solaris installed base?
Rich Riddle: We see a lot of customers modernizing their SPARC/Solaris systems by consolidating onto systems like the Fujitsu SPARC M12. This can be a real money-saver for customers, and give them much more performance capability at the same time.
This has become so prevalent that we’ve put together a tool that allows our partners to show customers the potential benefits from a consolidation onto a more performing platform like Fujitsu SPARC M12.
Jackie Eberlin: It can be a real eye-opener for customers to see just how much money a customer can save by moving to a more modern platform. Customers save from having more applications on a single system, cutting the number of systems being maintained, freeing up software licenses, and saving money on software maintenance.
Question: What does Arrow do to help their channel partners out?
Rich Riddle: “In addition to providing financing, which allows partners to tackle deals both big and small, we also provide all of the components necessary to build an entire enterprise solution. Real solutions require components from multiple vendors, and we’ve focused on building relationships with essentially every key vendor a partner might need to sell and implement an enterprise solution. Our goal is to enable our partners to tackle any deal that might come their way, regardless of size or complexity.”
Question: How would you characterize Arrow’s relationship with Fujitsu?
Rich Riddle: “Fujitsu is a great partner to work with. They go the extra mile to make it easy to do business with them and also go the extra mile with partners and customers. They do whatever they can do to get the customer into the right solution and make sure that the customer is completely satisfied.”
Jackie Eberlin: “We love working with Fujitsu. The products are top notch and their support is fantastic. Really, the only challenge is making the market aware of the Fujitsu product line.”
Speaking for Fujitsu, we find working with Arrow to be very rewarding. They make it extremely easy to do business and provide a lot of support for our systems. Their partners are enthusiastic and very knowledgeable, which means they know exactly how to present our systems to end-users, how to craft the right solution for each customer, and how to ensure that the customer is happy with the solution.
We look forward to continued success with Arrow!