Channel Partners Evolution: Helping ACA Gear Up for Success

CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — On the first full day of the conference, Michael Goodenough, vice president of cloud solutions for BCM One, led a rapid-fire keynote featuring (above, l-r) Wiqar Chaudry, director & chief technologist, partner alliances for Rackspace; Jennifer D’Ambrosio, director, access/vendor management for Granite Telecommunications; Jim Poole, vice president, business development, service provider vertical marketing at Equinix; Goodenough; Max Silber, vice president of mobility at MetTel; Derek Siler, Sungard AS’ director, solution engineering channels; and Roger Toennis, CEO of mTusker.

The group looked to answer the question: What’s the best way to position connected-clothing startup Acme Connected Apparel for digital-powered growth up and down the stack while equipping employees for productivity and covering disaster recovery, just in case?

Key to the discussion is ACA’s focus on IoT and compliance needs. IoT demands flexibility, security and scalability as well as attention to both PCI and HIPAA compliance.{ad}

“Rackspace is uniquely positioned to handle both types,” said Chaudry. He recommends Rackspace’s Carina hosted container environment, which he says is extensible enough to handle ACA’s needs and won’t lock the company into a single infrastructure. Carina, currently in beta, is built on the open-source Docker Swarm project.

D’Ambrosio focused on how Granite can help ACA with access for its diverse workforce. Besides supporting teleworkers (a topic we cover in depth in our free report) with connectivity ranging from DSL/cable to MPLS, she says Granite can help partners support a range of end devices, including IoT sensors.

Equinix’s Poole brought SDN – a key theme of the event – into the mix. Poole says most of the service providers at the event are Equinix customers – critical because supporting IoT means supporting a broad range of networks. Just 10 to 20 percent of the gear of any rack is Equinix’s.

“The data will come from everywhere” he said “There’s no such thing in any IoT scenario as a customer using one vendor.” That demands hyperscaler gateways to manage data – IoT devices are generating TB of data that must be staged all around the world and must support multiple clouds. Poole cited the Equinix Cloud Exchange as a way for partners to orchestrate workloads across multiple providers, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Office 365, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud.

Mobility is the endpoint,” says Silber, who says MetTel can help with ACA’s PCI and HIPAA needs. Silber says IoT is about DNA: device, network and application, with the last being a sticking point for many partners but intrinsic to ACA’s IoT success.

“My Fitbit is great, but if I didn’t have the application, I wouldn’t use it,” he says. From capturing data to secure mobile connectivity, “everyone needs hand holding at this point,” he says.

Sungard’s Siler says with disaster recovery, ACA is basically buying a business insurance plan.

“Amy’s brand is about …


… access and availability,” he says. “It’s about finding that optimal blend of cost and risk.” He recommends that ACA work with partners to select a DR provider that can save money by being granular about where data is stored and the level of protection applications need, based on tier and RTO and RPO. Then, test.

“DR doesn’t fail because of technology, it fails because of people and process,” says Siler. Ensuring everything runs smoothly in a multiprovider model is an opportunity for a trusted adviser. “It doesn’t matter where data apps live,” he says. “Assign a service delivery expert and have ownership of recovery start to finish.”

Finally, Toennis said mTusker is a startup, like ACA, and has the same needs. mTusker provides SaaS-based CRM and ERP tailored for the telco, MSP and VAR market. He sees the infrastructure discussion as a “layer cake,” with the application layer the icing. The company’s CRM/ERP system is completely in the cloud, and this week it will announce integration of mTusker with Microsoft Office 365. {ad}

“The SaaS layer is going to explode” said Toennis, and customers need trusted advisers. 

Some specific IoT advice:

  • Chaudry: IoT data must be monetized. Pay attention to the type of database and where they live. RS has Hadoop-based DBs and other open source DB tech as well as DBA services, SQL Server and Oracle Elastisearch.
  • D’Ambrosio: Understand the customer’s applications and build from there. And, just as important, understand the end user – what access do they need?
  • Poole: IoT is almost always multivendor, and no two customers are going to do things the same way. Partners should look for suppliers with professional services teams that can help them select the right provider.
  • Silber: Project management is huge. There are a ton of moving parts in IoT before anything gets to the customer. “Putting all that stuff together in an effective way so that when you drop ship, they open up the box, it works,” says Silber. “Who’s going to do that work?”
  • Siler: Be methodical. Establish IoT application tiers, then assign RTO and RPO – only then can you test. And, when a business is based on data like ACA is, that testing becomes even more critical. “DR is not a check box,” said Siler.
  • Toennis:  IoT means taking the relationship to the next level. However you do it, partners must stay top-of-mind while helping businesses stay in tune with their end customers. “ACA’s customers must always be – and feel – connected,” said Toennis.

BCM One’s Goodenough summed it up: Add value – network, services, app dev, and make sure that your company’s contributions to the business are measurable. Predictive analytics are the real value of IoT.

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