VAR Block is making a major play into the services arena after investing £2m in a range of hosted offerings.
The London-based Cisco Gold partner has launched its datacentre as a service (DCaaS) offering as the first in a range of services it will be rolling out over the summer months, with areas including desktop and unified comms set to be added to the roster. Services can be scaled up to cover as many as 10,000 users, which chief executive Jon Pickering claimed will allow the company to potentially serve even the largest NHS trust in the UK.
The company will initially be targeting customers in its core healthcare market, but in time will look to offer services in areas including financial services and retail. After investing about £2m in research, additional capacity and staff, Pickering claimed now is the perfect time to launch into the hosting space in a big way.
"It is not just about cloud, it is about being able to offer the customer choice. Our strategy is to offer consulting services, professional services, on-premise and off-premise, and public or private cloud, to be able to design solutions effectively that meet the objectives that the customer is trying achieve," he said.
"We are not just going to stand up services for another vertical market without understanding what the customer wants first. We are trying to take a value-added capability approach, rather than just selling an as-a-service proposition and hammering customers saying ‘would you like to buy this from us?'. We try to understand what pains a customer is going through and then build solutions off the back of that."
Getting in the game
The Block chief claimed his firm already has a number of managed services customers on the books, including some contracts to manage clients' entire IT infrastructure. The new services push will allow the VAR to offer existing customers a different way of consuming IT, as well as luring in new business, he claimed.
"Of course, this is a different type of proposition, but it is still about talking to the customer, finding out what their problems are and taking a consultative approach," added Pickering (pictured below right).
"What we are not expecting is for our salespeople to be able to get in front of a customer, answer several questions and architect a managed services solution on the spot. [It is also about] the capability we have within our technical staff, our architecture team, and the pre-sales team. The difference in our approach will be in making sure all those teams are integrated and working together."
Block's 2014 fiscal year closed at the end of March, with annual sales growing by more than a fifth to £27.6m. But gross profit jumped 45 per cent and EBITDA more than doubled, which Pickering chalked up to the profitability benefits of the moves the firm has already made into the services space.
"We are making that transition and this is that final piece to enable us to offer a complete portfolio [of services]," he added. "The message is: we are now in the game."
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany