Avnet: Customers Who Want VSPEX Need Services

After today’s EMC VSPEX launch event, Avnet VP and GM Scott Look, along with Al Chin, VP of Sales and Marketing for Avnet reseller partner Dasher, sat down with Wikibon founder Dave Vellante in theCube to discuss how the channel actually helps a customer reap the benefits of converged infrastructure.

Avnet’s Look explains the rising importance of the channel by pointing out that as technology marches on, customers need help to achieve their goals. And while EMC specifically hasn’t always had the best reputation in the channel, Look praised the efforts of EMC Channel Chief Gregg Ambulos as he’s ramped up the company’s reseller friendliness.

In the course of the conversation, Chin and Look discussed an emerging trend among Dasher’s customers: Disenfranchisement with the Amazon EC2 public cloud. Small businesses largely favor convenient, cheap public cloud services, the midmarket towards more manageable private clouds, and larger enterprises shoot for hybrids that take the best of both worlds – cloudbursting workloads and outsourcing services as needed, but keeping the bulk behind the firewall.

As these companies grow, they realize that Amazon Web Services might be overcharging for what they’re getting, or that flexibility might be severely limited. Meanwhile, Chin says that Dasher is in place to help move their workloads back to truly owned, internally-managed infrastructure where they know exactly what they’re getting. That’s where today’s EMC VSPEX announcement comes in.

Converged infrastructure in general, and EMC VSPEX in particular, allows for more flexibility and a focus on the cloud. Avnet will be rolling single-SKU solutions based on the VSPEX architectures – such that customers and resellers can get one quote for building through integration. And Chin says that the fact that VSPEX-based products are pre-proven means the world to customers who are making that journey back from the public cloud.

Flexibility, to Chin, means giving customers the ability to pick and choose the technologies they want while retaining an EMC-backed seal of approval. And now CIOs can strip away all the pricy upsells (higher SLAs, better support, et cetera) that are required for confidence in public cloud services and bring that all back in house and, again, under direct control.

As far as services, Chin says that most customers end up receiving a mix of Avnet and Dasher’s expertise. For example, Dasher asked Avnet to do an implementation at a remote customer site. That’s a good example, as Look affirms that it’s all about supporting the reseller, and that they’ll only do what they’re asked by partners.

So if, as Vellante asked, VSPEX is designed to be so simple, why do you need implementation services at all? Chin explained that VSPEX, for all its streamlining, is still a complex solution. It can’t just be plugged in and turned on: VSPEX needs to be specced out and configured for the customer application.

When it comes to branding, Chin admits that Dasher doesn’t have a lot of recognition. But as Look points out, Dasher being able to put their logo on a VSPEX machine in the data center is a great validator and a good value. And when VSPEX actually delivers on its promise of efficiency and service, Chin says that it’s always a good thing to have the service provider associated with the experience.

Finally, and most importantly, when it comes to actually making money, Look and Chin agreed that the best way to profit from converged infrastructure is to simply provide everything. Management, design, deployment – these are “the biggest piece of the pie,” as Wikibon’s Vellante put it.

It’s all about simplicity and efficiency, Chin says. While it takes a customer weeks to hobble together their own solution, if they hire a channel partner, that time can go down significantly and get ROI that much faster. Dasher sees a part of its job as explaining to cusomers the benefits of converged infrastructure and the kind of proofing that VSPEX provides. It’s simply not all about acquisition cost.