**Editor's Note: Click here for Channel Partners' complete coverage of the April 2014 SYNNEX Varnex event in Orlando.**
ORLANDO — Distributor SYNNEX – which has taken to calling itself “a technology solutions provider," but more on that later – this week is holding its Varnex conference, its exclusive event for solutions providers, vendors and key internal executives.
Channel Partners spent some time with CEO Kevin Murai to get his thoughts on issues ranging from how SYNNEX stands out from its peers to the cloud and the company’s growth. Check out the takeaways:
First, SYNNEX distinguishes itself from other broadline distributors by investing in services, said Murai.
“So when we look at our role, we don’t stick to a legacy distribution model – in fact, we view ourselves as a technology solutions provider," he said. (Indeed, SYNNEX’s attempt to shift away from the term “distributor" mirrors similar efforts in the telecom industry. For example, several master agents are terming themselves “technology distributors" or “brokers," rather than “agents." The change comes as traditional and next-generation technologies converge and create new opportunities – and that convergence seems to be challenging IT and telecom suppliers and partners alike to think about how they define themselves.)
That services focus means VARs, MSPs and other solutions providers can look to SYNNEX to help them in areas where they are limited, Murai said. The partners who focus on SMBs, while “very good at what they do," also struggle with limited capabilities and geographies, he pointed out. But since SYNNEX provides capabilities such as data-center assessments, professional services, a network operations center, training and more, partners can lean on the distributor to help them in those areas.
Next, SYNNEX views the cloud as an opportunity, rather than a detractor of on-premises sales. That’s because Murai refuses to see it as anything but an opportunity. The SYNNEX head has worked in IT and distribution for almost 30 years “and this is probably the third time that there’s been talk around the disintermediation or the risk to the channel and to distribution," he said. “Obviously [cloud] is a change in how people are consuming IT but, if anything, I think the level of integration and the opportunity for services actually increases when things move up to the cloud."
As one way of turning cloud into opportunity, SYNNEX offers the CloudSolv platform, which allows solutions providers to provision services for SMBs.
“The obvious threat is that the end customer can go to Microsoft or Symantec and sign up for their own services," said Murai. “But when you’re talking about a small or midsize business and dozens, or even hundreds, of end users, you have to provision every single time. And then you think about, nothing’s static – people leave and you hire new people and you’ve got to continually maintain that. So that’s where our [channel partners] really step in."