Repositioning into the value added solutions market
In sync with the changing technology landscape and opportunities for reseller channel partners, distributor Asbis Middle East has been enhancing its value-added solutions offerings. While Asbis has traditionally been a strong volume distributor for components and storage devices, a recent move has been its solution offerings for Intel servers meant for the datacentre solution stack. According to Hesham Tantawi, Vice President Middle East and Africa at Asbis, the distributor now has a strategic partnership with Intel for its ready to use L9 servers and recently closed a related $10 million deal. “The focus is on datacentres. Intel has a line of servers and we are focusing on it.”
From being a component only distributor for Intel just a few years ago, Asbis now has certified engineers on board to manage its Intel based datacentre solution offerings. “We are doing the datacentre design, reviewing the design with customer, reseller partner and vendor, and then we propose the right solution for them.” Tantawi points out that the demand driver for datacentres amongst Asbis reseller channel partners is the move towards managed services.
A new area of activity from Asbis is the buildup of competency in printers and investment in managed printing services. Asbis has tie ups with Samsung, Lexmark and Oki and is focused on high-end and mid-range printing solutions. For managed printing services, Asbis invests in original and new equipment and does not invest in refurbished or recertified equipment. Tantawi gives the following argument for not investing in refurbished equipment. “When we are talking about managed print services we are talking about quality. Refurbished equipment could have reduced quality of printing, which the customer will not accept.”
An area of fast growth for Asbis is the demand for networking and infrastructure solutions from system integrators. Asbis has vendor partnerships with TP-Link, Tripplite, Netgear, Ubiquiti Networks. It has also started looking at related opportunities in the Internet of Things solutions space. “We are developing a lot of projects in the area of IoT,” adds Tantawi.
Asbis is also leveraging its competency in datacentre solutions to move into the software delivered, managed services business. As a value-added solutions distributor, Asbis has relationships with security vendors Symantec, ESET, AVG and has also developed an alliance with Microsoft. “We are interested in the managed services business and we are doing some projects with security vendors. We have the know-how and skills, and we are training our staff. We already have a big alliance with Microsoft for this.”
Another area of demand is storage solutions being driven by the installation of CCTV and video surveillance equipment. “There are a lot of projects for storage of video surveillance data and archive.” Asbis has relationships with principal vendor partners Seagate, Netgear, and Acronis.
Along with the internal build-up of competency in vendor based, value- added solutions, Asbis has also had to relook at its reseller channel partner community. There has been a shift of focus within Asbis, from being a component only distribution company towards distribution of value-based solutions.
Asbis has recently enabled many more value-added resellers and system integrators. Tantawi explains these initiatives, “There is a difference between a reseller who sells components and those working on six-month projects. Our philosophy is to have long lasting relationships with partners. We are not interested to sell in one-deal-and-go. We develop the partners from A to Z.”
While Asbis has taken definite steps to grow its business in the value-added solution space, the primary revenue contribution continues to come from the volume component business including vendor partners Intel and AMD, followed by Seagate. A key partner loyalty programme called Fusion, historically sponsored by AMD, is still operational today.
While there has been a meltdown in credit liquidity across the IT channel industry, primarily between regional commercial banks and reseller channel partners, Tantawi points out the situation is quite different for distribution companies.
“People looking from outside will say that it is not healthy. But for people inside who are professionally monitoring their business it is still healthy.” The reason is that those reseller channel partners who are here for the long run are still in place and contribute to making the business healthy. While those here for short term gains are exiting, or have exited.
For the value-added solution space, that is driven by projects and vertically focused with credible end users at the other end, payments are assured. Hence commercial banks and credit insurance companies are extending financial liquidity with workable terms for such engagements.
If there is any churn it is between commercial banks, credit insurance companies, and the second-tier of channel companies. The second-tier of channel companies, in some cases have been extended financial credit significantly above what they can effectively manage within their present business models.
For Asbis, with increasing deployments of cloud solutions in the region, increasing stability across Northern Africa, and significant operational costs controls already in place, the next couple of years promise to yield better returns in profitability.
- Difference between reseller who sells components and those working on projects
- Doing datacentre design, reviewing design, proposing right solution
- Focus is on datacentres and Intel line of servers
- Have an alliance with Microsoft for managed services
- Managed print services about quality not using refurbished equipment
- Not interested to sell in one-deal-and-go, develop partners from A to Z
- Now developing projects in IoT
- People inside who are professionally monitoring their business say it is still healthy
- People looking from outside will say business is not healthy
- Projects for storage of video surveillance data driving demand
- Recently enabled more value-added resellers and system integrators
- Working on managed services projects with security vendors
Asbis Solutions is the value-added distribution division of Asbis Middle East and covers security, storage, backup, disaster recovery, networking and infrastructure. The offerings for partners include product management, pre-sales technical support, channel management, integrated marketing, stock availability, credit facilities, logistics, and B2B online market place for reseller partners.
For security solutions, the vendor partners include Symantec, ESET, AVG. For storage and backup solutions the vendor partners include Netgear, Acronis, Promise Technology. For external storage solutions, the vendor partners include Seagate, Toshiba, HGST and Prestigio. For solid state drives the vendor partners include Intel, Toshiba and Sandisk. For networking and infrastructure solutions the vendor partners include TP-Link, Tripplite, Netgear, Ubiquiti Networks.
On the component side, the product portfolio includes video cards from Saphire, VTX; mainboards from ECS; displays from AOC, Dell; multimedia accessories from Canyon, MP3 players, Prestigio GPS Navigator; memory cards from Patriot, Kingston, Lexmark, Seagate; hard disk drives from Seagate, Toshiba Mobile, HGST, Server HDD; CPU processors for desktops and servers, video cards from Saphire and VTX. Asbis also offers notebooks from vendor partners Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba.
Asbis channel partner can engage with the distributor through incentive deals and bundle programmes. The Asbis Bonus Club membership offers bonus points to members for selected products sold offline or online that can be redeemed against a prize catalog. The Asbis Fusion Club is a long-term loyalty programme for customers, covering social networking, training, knowledge sharing.