Top VARs Q&A: Martin Hess, OCSL

Douglas Woodburn
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Top VARs Q&A: Martin Hess, OCSL

OCSL's chairman says the HP partner has found that its competitive landscape is changing as it moves deeper into services

As part of our Top VARs 2016 report, we catch up with Martin Hess, who recently joined as chairman of OCSL, which ranked 38th in the list with revenues of £79.8m

Many people will know you from your time at HP. What was your view of OCSL before you joined in March?

What I liked was that they were already embarking on the transformation of the business from being hardware-centric to being services-centric. I've just helped to crystallise some of the thinking, particularly around cloud. The strategy is clear and now it's about making sure we can scale it.

What is the product versus services split for OCSL?

It's about 60-40 but next year I think it will be about 55 to 45. The percentage isn't changing as quickly as we thought it would because the hardware business is holding up slightly better than we expected.

What's in store for OCSL?

I think we are going to become a bigger player in cloud and will get a stronger reputation around Azure. There are customers starting on their journey to cloud so I would expect us to win a lot more business there. We are also going a bit more multi-vendor on the hardware, although HP will still be our bedrock.

Is your competitive landscape changing?

Yes, inevitably. In some areas we are starting to compete against the big boys in managed services but we will also be up against the Avanades of this world as we start competing more in the Microsoft space.

We have won some really chunky deals so we'll go into next year with a backlog that is twice the size of the business we booked this year.

Are you comfortable with being described as a ‘VAR'?

I don't describe us as a VAR any more. Traditionally, OCSL was defined by its relationship with HP but we're beyond that, and we need to tell the world we stand for something different. If you need to call us a VAR because [the industry] hasn't come up with a better name, that doesn't bother me.

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