Recognising opportunity within a fast-moving IT landscape

IT Reseller spoke with leading spokespeople from APC by Schneider Electric and distributor partner Exertis about the changing world of IT and how APC is focused on helping its channel partners to leverage greater advantage from the opportunities these trends present.

Terms such as digitalisation, IoT, edge computing and hyperconvergence are becoming increasingly prevalent within the world of IT as the level of connectivity between devices and data becomes ever greater. So, how is APC using these technologies and trends as an enabler, and how is the company helping its channel partners to identify related opportunities in order for them to further grow their businesses?

Rob McKernan is APC's SVP Global Channels. His career with the company stretches over 20 years. McKernan has a wealth of channel experience in the US, and recently relocated to Paris to oversee the company's European channel strategy. McKernan spoke about how a number of coinciding technological developments present opportunities for business growth within the channel. "Some of the most successful points in our history have been when a market trend within the channel and the user community has intersected with our technology," he said. "Currently, areas such as the Industrial IOT and edge computing are where the key developments are. It's increasingly about data being consumed, processed and stored outside of a main data centre and in a remote way. So, our ability to access that is reliant on our partners. The diverse breadth and depth of partner network that we enjoy in the UK, Europe and throughout the world is still one of our strongest attributes and strengths."

McKernan added: "Whether it's an IOT process on the manufacturing floor, an intelligent traffic system or smart patient room type environment, we are seeing an explosion of data and the importance of that explosion to be managed efficiently. There is a need for that data to be reliable and secure, and for the data process to be constantly running. That is where APC's technology, products and solutions come to the fore, and we are spending a lot of time making sure our partners fully understand the current trends, and are enabled and trained to gain maximum advantage."

Rob McKernan: “The diverse breadth and depth of partner network that we enjoy in the UK, Europe and throughout the world is still one of our strongest attributes and strengths.”

Embracing the changes

Andy Connor, APC's Channel Director for the UK, joined the company in October last year, having previously held various channel roles over the past 25 years with different solutions vendors. Connor remarked that the company's channel partners and distributors are very much an extension of APC as a business. He added that, from his perspective, some partners are very much embracing the market changes, while others are looking more to APC and its distributors for guidance.

Connor explained that it is also important to look at APC within the context of its owner Schneider Electric, a multinational organisation that offers hardware, software and services within spheres such as automation and energy management. "Schneider are very much at the forefront of industrial IT, so of course their traditional partners are now looking to us to help support them because they want to become more involved in the IT infrastructure, and we are finding that some of our partners are also looking to engage in Schneider's area as well. So, to a large extent, we are bringing these two worlds together."

He also spoke about APC's new and improved Channel Partner Program. "Within our Partner Program we offer a range of benefits, including training. We invest so that we can ensure our partners have all the skills they need, they can earn attractive discounts and benefit from a range of other advantages. We work very closely with our Alliance Partners in order to simplify the whole supply chain process. In some instances, it's the end-users who are saying to our partners 'these are what our requirements are, how can you help us achieve that?'. In other instances, partners already know what their customers require – something that is very simplified and easy to deploy."

Connor added that APC also offers a Managed Service Program. "This is geared towards providing attractive benefits for managed service providers and looks at how they can benefit from a physical infrastructure as a service to their customers," he said.

Lee Griffiths, APC's EMEA Alliance Manager, joined the company in 2001 and has taken on various channel-related roles throughout that time. Griffiths is currently looking after the Alliance side of the business; working closely with APC partners such as Cisco, NetApp, Nutanix etc. to ensure their technology is closely on APC's radar and vice versa. Griffiths picked up on the edge computing theme. "The edge computing aspect often leads to the requirement for single rack deployments or micro data centres," he said, going on to reference the recent launch of APC's Micro Data Center (DC) Xpress line of connected products – making it faster, easier and more cost-effective to build and deploy micro data centres at the network edge. Designed to allow IT equipment to be pre-installed by the customer, partner or integrator before shipment, Micro Data Center (DC) Xpress offers customers complete IT infrastructure within a standalone, single cabinet or rack enclosure.

Perfect fit

"Micro Data Center (DC) Xpress is a perfect fit for hyperconverged players in the market, such as Nutanix, or indeed for any converged infrastructure too," said Griffiths, who also explained that APC PowerChute Network Shutdown v4.2 power protection software has received Nutanix Ready Core Management & Operations certification for Nutanix ESXi and Hyper-V hyperconverged infrastructure deployments. "Micro Data Center (DC) Xpress ticks all the right boxes – simplification, speed of deployment and speed of configuration – so it helps our partners to simplify the process for the end-customer," he added.

Becky Slade is Power and Cooling Business Manager at distributor Exertis, and manages Exertis's business relationship with APC. Slade made the point that the standard UK racking business has become more commoditised in the recent past. "People are expecting next-day delivery, and expect a greater number and range of racks to be held in stock by us as a distributor," she said. "Customers want the racks on site quickly and ready to go. So, what is attractive about Micro Data Center (DC) Xpress is it is essentially configured and ready to go on site by the next day. This is something Exertis likes to refer to as its gold service for partners. It means we deliver the equipment into our installers, they check it to make sure it has all the right parts, the right cables etc. They go to site, deliver it, position it, install it, commission it – all on the same day. This is a really important service for customers who are now expecting that type of speedy deployment."

Developments continue apace

This week has seen the announcement that Cisco has certified APC by Schneider Electric to ship Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) Servers pre-racked in NetShelter SX with Shock Packaging cabinets. With this line of pre-certified, pre-tested and shockproof solutions for converged and hyperconverged infrastructure, the company aims to increase speed of deployment and simplify installation, whilst enabling APC channel partners, systems integrators and value-added resellers (VARs) to complete all integration and configuration work for the customer, before shipping. NetShelter SX with Shock Packaging design was vigorously tested as part of the Cisco certification process to ensure the safety of the systems during transportation, where pre-racked IT equipment can be at risk from shock and vibration. It provides customers with peace of mind for successful deployment of pre-racked Cisco UCS kit.

The Cisco certification also means APC Channel Partners can not only deliver NetShelter racks with Cisco converged infrastructure, but combine the solution with all the complementary power, cooling, and software systems that comprise the Schneider Electric's InfraStruxure and Micro Data Centre product portfolio. This includes Micro Data Center (DC) Xpress.

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