Westcon Group’s first dedicated chief technology officer, Bill Hurley, was initially appointed CIO 12 months ago and is now tasked with overseeing the distributor’s IT organisation while identifying future technologies and capabilities to invest in globally. He caught up with NADIA CAMERON during a recent visit to Sydney to discuss his background, the status of Westcon’s vendor line-up and his emerging IT agenda.
What’s your focus in the new CTO role?
Bill Hurley (BH): There has always been a strong understanding at Westcon of the advanced and emerging technologies, and then positioning the organisation to help resellers understand what’s going on in those spaces. This role was formalised to put a centralised role around that and a more coherent message and global plan together. So strategically, where is Westcon going and what partners and vendors we should be working with as technologies change. More importantly, it’s about working with resellers and business partners on what technologies and trends they should be thinking about, and how we as a distributor can help them get ready for that.
Take some of these technologies, like Cisco’s new datacentre product or Microsoft’s software-as-a-service platform: Many resellers are very interested in those and will make money off them in the long-term, but in the short-term there is an investment they need to make in training, education and understanding. A distributor like Westcon can step in and doing the training of our people, but time-slice them and make them available to resellers so in the early days, they don’t have to make huge investments. Those are the types of initiatives we want to undertake to help resellers be more knowledgable and productive earlier on with these new technologies with lower risk.
Are you looking to utilise existing Westcon staff to achieve this, or are you making investments into new resources?
BH: It’s a bit of both. In the case of the Cisco datacentre, we are working with them on new training and certifications. We strongly believe you need to be able to talk to the resellers from an experienced point of view, so it was important for us to acquire the datacentre technology. We can now work with resellers with that perspective. Westcon is a heavily virtualised organisation, so we understand virtualisation and the good and the bad. We can give them the information they need – the tools, techniques, tricks, ROI – to help your end users understand what virtualisation is and how to get down that road.
Another example is that Westcon is converting to Microsoft’s BPOS, which is basically email in the cloud. Most of Westcon Europe and America is converted, and one of the reasons I’m here in Australia is to test the product and see how the response times are and based on those, we’re putting together the plan to convert Asia-Pacific to BPOS. We were an early adopter, so we had a chance to really work with Microsoft engineers and understand the details of the product. Now we’re a Microsoft distributor in the US and we’re hoping to be a global distributor, specifically focusing on emerging technologies like BPOS. And it’s great to be able to show resellers how we’re using it. So part of my role is to make those technological commitments and eat our own dog food, as it were.
Are you finding resellers receptive to Cisco’s datacentre play?
BH: The resellers I’ve been in meetings with are very interested, and I think they know it’s the right time. The concern, and it’s a fair observation, is that it’s Cisco first foray into the datacentre space. Cisco did it right – they spent a lot of time understanding the technology and they have a good, solid product – but it’s still early days.