The impact of the Cloud continues to have a major influence on the distribution industry with licences and connectivity solutions replacing boxes dispatched from warehouses. However with the winds of change sweeping across the industry this creates an opportunity for these distributors.
Nimans Head of Network Services, Mark Curtis-Wood says on and off premise technologies complement rather than compete against each other, in an age where nimble, intuitive and flexible working practices lead the way.
“There’s little doubt the Cloud has changed the distribution landscape in a big way. We’re on the front line and a vital conduit between vendors and resellers so any changing market trends are often first picked up here. Go back five or 10 years and we were selling a lot more standard one dimensional product than we do today but we’ve evolved like our customers and relish the opportunities that lie ahead,” he pointed out.
“In the beginning I think things were a lot more fragmented; you had defined on premise and off premise solutions and it was a bit like never the twain as both were in conflict and competition with each other to some extent. I think what Nimans has done very well to embrace and recognise is that on premise is gradually moving into the Cloud from various different angles. I guess by their nature distributors have always been a good barometer of what is happening out there. We can see trends taking place by people voting with their feet to some extent, buying less of one product and more of a different type and also where the overlap is. Are people buying less PBX because of hosted or are they buying less because of other factors such as a slowing economy? We are ideally placed to assess.
“Because we have such a wide product range joined up with our Network Services offering we can take multiple views of where things currently stand and also where they are going.”
Curtis-Wood added: “For me I think the boundaries between on and off premise continue to blur. I’ve never been an advocate of ‘rip out and replace’. It’s always been evolution not revolution and Nimans has diversified as a business to capitalise on that. Our product and service offerings are now very different to what they used to be. I think the fact we’ve been around for so long means we can adopt a long term view and in most cases there’s no doubt hardware and cloud-based technologies can co-exist. Take virtualisation of a PBX for example.
“It’s about understanding a product set based around known and trusted features and combining them with the best of the Cloud in terms of disaster recovery, resilience and flexibility. It’s about de-risk and we are seeing this in a number of products across the Nimans portfolio such as call recording. In Network Services we are seeing a tipping point based on consumer buying trends which then infiltrate the business arena. The decisions consumers are making are often the decisions business owners are making -and in turn resellers too.”
Curtis-Wood says the biggest decision people have had to face over the last four to five years is can they trust the Cloud. Do they understand it and what impact will it have on their business.
He continued: “Once that fundamental decision is made it almost opens up the floodgates. If one product is going to be moved to the cloud or put into a data centre then all the other decisions that come behind that are so much easier from a practical and logistical point of view. We are seeing end users and resellers driving up demand, as well as vendors banging the drum loudly.
“But inevitably the Cloud is only as good as the connectivity because moving a business into the Cloud means you have to be able to connect to it and that’s not just fixed connectivity any more but mobile connectivity too. This is where the rollout and penetration of 4G really comes to the fore. There are three key elements: What services are being moved to the Cloud, what’s sitting behind this and how to connect to it. With Fibre rollout increasing and bandwidth costs coming down it suddenly becomes a lot easier to connect to.”
Curtis-Wood concluded: “What’s made it more tangible to people is that a compelling event is on the horizon. 2025 is when ISDN will be turned off and this acts as a focal point in people’s minds. I don’t think the Cloud is every going to fully take over. It shouldn’t be viewed that way. But whatever the future holds Nimans will be a leader not a follower. It’s not about how many boxes leave our warehouse; it’s about exceeding the demands of our customers through providing better solutions.”
Ed Says… Traditionally distributors have focussed on supplying the channel CPE based solutions and software on a discounted CAPEX model but with 84% of UK firms using at least one cloud based service this model will not hold up forever.