Westcon Group Global CEO, Dean Douglas, recently visited our shores and spoke to ARN's Julia Talevski about the company's growth plans including its acquisition strategy and its impending cloud platform service for resellers, which is currently being trialled in the UK and will be rolled out in Asia Pacific next year.
ARN Julia Talevski (JT): You’ve been with Westcon since 2008, what is your background and experience in IT?
Westcon Group Dean Douglas (DD): I started my career with IBM and was there for several years involved in sales and marketing. It was a great training ground into being a general manager. I left IBM and went to work for Motorola, where I was involved in strategic marketing, strategy and I ran a business focusing on data services and wireless. I spent some time in Europe with Motorola running marketing for EMEA in the cellular infrastructure group which was a $2 billion business at the time.
I came back to the US and took on a worldwide role running business development and corporate development for the infrastructure group. I was recruited back to IBM within their Global Services, which was a totally different environment. I originally left the company in 1993 and came back eight years later and there was an amazing difference. IBM Global Services was significant at the time and I ran a wireless services business and the telecoms business, before leaving IBM I came to Asia in Shanghai and helped with IBM Global Serivces in the Asia Pacific. I left IBM and joined a professional services company called LCC International.
JT:What are some of your top priorities for Westcon this year?
DD:Our business is doing Ok, we’re going to grow double digits across the group. Growth in Australia will be stronger than that and across Asia Pacific. It’s a challenging economic environment, the GFC just doesn’t seem to have dissipated at all, but I think we’ve got a great vendor portfolio and a really nice niche that we address. We’re in the networking space and networking security, which continue to be areas of pretty good growth.
JT: What are some of the interesting trends happening in the distribution market?
DD:One of the things that we do well as a distributor is that we can bring together multiple vendors and integrate their products into an offering for our customers. In the cloud I think we can do the same thing.
The public cloud is an area where I think distribution has a more robust capability and the private cloud is almost business as usual with a little bit of smarts around how you do global deployments and how you manage those for your resellers.
For the private cloud, it represents a whole a different sets of challenges. If you look at the public cloud offerings, they’re point solutions. Some mid-size companies want to move a number of different areas in the cloud. If you wanted to move your desktop to the cloud, you had to negotiate with a company that does that and then you have a solution that addresses your desktop. But you want to also add sales force automation, you have to deal with another company and get another solution. If you wanted to do HR, then you have to move to another company. If you wanted to do security in a cloud security, you would go to another security company, and so on.
JT: What has Westcon done in this area?
DD: What we’ve done is created a platform and we’re piloting it now in the UK, which integrates all of these important solutions and presents one website with a single sign-on to the reseller. It’s white-label so the resellers can re-brand it and take that to the market place with whatever capabilities they want to offer to their end user. That end user then has the opportunity to sign on to the website and access products such as security and have an integrated offering, which is tied to our ERP system and we can bill to the reseller on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on their contract.
It can be billed across a number of different cloud service providers, and so not only is the access to the cloud offerings integrated with a single sign-on, the bill is also integrated into a single bill. We think it’s very powerful for our resellers as they go to market and talk to end users about having that capability to take to the market place. That’s where distribution is going to add value.
We’ve got some nice adoption so far, it’s not significant or millions of dollars, but it’s still nice adoption. We’re testing it out and exercising it and we expect to roll it out in the rest of Europe at the end of the year, and next year bring it into Asia Pacific.
We’re not going to be a cloud service provider, we’ll leave that to service providers, resellers and systems integrators. We’re going to bring together all those capabilities into an integrated platform.