Five things we've learned this month

clock • 4 min read

What are the key takeaways for the channel from March?

1. The ‘big four' are now the ‘big three'

Ingram, Tech Data, Arrow and Avnet have dominated the global IT distribution market for decades, but that cosy quartet is now a member down.

Tech Data and Avnet Technology Solutions are now formally one company, following the closure of the former's $2.6bn (£2.1bn) acquisition of the latter at the start of March.

Key UK and European figures at Avnet, including Grame Watt and Miriam Murphy, were immediately handed roles in the enlarged company, which has 14,000 staff, including 7,500 in Europe. Another former Avnet figure, Patrick Zammit (pictured), who has been crowned European president, said he aims to have Tech Data's integration process complete in a year's time, with Germany and the UK - the largest markets of both Avnet TS and Tech Data - expected to take the longest.

"The overlap is of course going to have an impact on the support functions of each business, but I do not think that we will see big lay-offs at this stage," he told CRN sister publication Channelnomics Europe.

2. An AWS outage means the world pays

An outage at AWS which brought large swathes of the internet to its knees has left the industry pondering whether the world has become too reliant on the giant.

The five-hour blackout on 28 February, caused by an inputting error when AWS was debugging an issue with its S3 storage service, affected a variety of cloud services and IoT devices. Fifty-four of the top 100 internet retailers were affected with a decrease of 20 per cent or greater in performance, according to web monitoring outfit Apica.

"We should never assume public cloud providers will never go down, and maybe this will make people take stock and ask whether we are expecting too much of a single cloud provider," Bob Tarzey, services director at analyst house Quocirca, told CRN.

3. There's a new king of print

Danwood has been the king of the UK print and copier channel for decades, but - proving that no dynasty lasts forever - the Lincoln-based giant has been snapped up by a pretender to its crown, Apogee.

This is the largest deal yet for acquisitive Apogee, which promised to keep its foot on the M&A pedal when it took on private equity house Equistone Partners Europe as an investor in September.

No mention of Danwood management was made, but Apogee said its board of directors, led by joint CEOs Jason Collins and Robin Stanton-Gleaves, will continue to manage the group following the deal.

"This significant acquisition for Apogee provides us with the scale and reach to be a leading player in the European market for MPS," Collins said.

4. The services transition is accelerating

Comments made during our recent CRN Top VARs roundtable added to the impression that the transition to services is speeding up.

"We're at the point now where we are actively discussing what does a shift of our business look like if we are going to go 100 per cent services related [and] the kit is only there as a mechanism for getting customers into the cloud or onto a managed WAN or managed network?" said Paul Shannon, CEO of ANS.

John Pepper, CEO of Managed 24/7 added: "[The channel has changed] more rapidly in the past two to three years than it has at any other point in time, and if you are a traditional VAR… you probably won't be in business in three or four years' time."

5. Selling tech to the MoD is risky business

Whatever the woes of dealing with a large central government department like MoD, at least it pays its suppliers on time, right?

Well, not according to multiple IT suppliers we spoke to last month, which had encountered persistent payment problems with the MoD's Contracting, Purchasing and Finance (CP&F) system, which went live on 5 December. The new "end-to-end" system is designed to improve supplier interaction with the department and replaces the previous P2P system.

In a statement to CRN, the MoD said it had processed 90 per cent of outstanding invoices and is dealing with "the last few", adding that it was confident any delays will be "resolved rapidly". "Now the new CP&F system has been implemented, business with the MoD will be far more efficient," it added.


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