Opinion

Thriving in the SD era

Reeman Ansari, Regional Channel Manager, MENA, VMware, advises resellers to develop a range of augmented capabilities that will enable them to drive transformation for customers in the software-defined age.

Reeman Ansari, VMware
Reeman Ansari, VMware

There has always been a need for resellers and partners to adapt and change to new developments in the market. The future, it is said, lies in software – with even the slowest, most conservative industries being disrupted by innovative, software-led business models. The names most closely associated with market-shaking disruption owe everything to software-enabled differentiation: Uber, Deliveroo, and Netflix have all revamped the services traditionally offered by competitors via a customer-centric software layer.

This trend has, in turn, changed the way the IT industry approaches infrastructure – with the mainstream now turning to the cloud in order to build the new and more fluid infrastructures needed to cope with the software gold rush.

Preparing for a new world

This all presents resellers with expanded opportunities. But the change in IT is so fast and far-reaching that, in VMware’s view, many resellers will need to undergo an almost complete metamorphosis. They will need to rebuild their approach from the ground-up; developing the capabilities to offer customers the dynamic agility they will increasingly expect from their IT.

In this new era, customers want IT systems that can be scaled and adapted instantly. They will expect their solutions provider to have the same qualities, be capable of offering them options to run critical business and productivity apps on-premise or in the cloud; and to provide a complete software-defined infrastructure that is virtual and scalable and can take advantage of public IaaS. They will want IT partners to be capable of designing, delivering and supporting all of these solutions and services too.

This will be a colossal challenge for what we call ‘resellers’ now. Imagine, for example, the complexity and planning that would be required to take a customer organisation that today, runs everything across a physical data centre and network infrastructure, with mobile users connecting via VPNs, and hands-on management, to a system that is completely cloud-based and uses software-defined networking to provide every user with secure anytime-anywhere access with totally dynamic and scalable systems that are monitored and managed remotely.

Finding your super power

To provide all this, ‘resellers’ will need to become IT and business ‘superheroes’, capable of understanding detailed customer requirements and business objectives, and delivering and supporting highly complex technology systems upon which those customers will depend entirely. They will need their own resilient infrastructure and 24/7 support services. Or to develop a watertight ecosystem of partnerships that will enable them to meet the much greater demands that will be placed upon them by customers.

They will also need to mirror the new and more dynamic business structures being adopted by their customers, abandoning the pre-defined silos that separated the data centre from the network and from security and management services, for one that is much more fluid and integrated.

By doing all of these, resellers can become not just IT suppliers, but also transformation partners for their customers. It’s a daunting challenge, but one that we believe partners must embrace. We have already started to work with our partners to help them develop this extensive range of abilities.  We have restructured our partner programme to enable more skills acquisition and development and we envisage working even more closely with our partners in the future.

The stakes in this new era are going to be considerably higher, both for customers and resellers and integrator businesses that serve them. Of course, some resellers have already started transitioning their business. Others are only just beginning to understand what will be required.

Customers are starting to envision the IT infrastructures they will need in the future; reseller businesses that want to become their trusted partners and providers of solutions, technology and services, need to start building their capabilities now.

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