With Sean Fane, Managing Director of Spectrami UK
Spectrami, a pioneer of the Vendor Extension Model (VEM) and a leading distributor of emerging technologies in the Middle East, has set up an independent UK office in partnership with Sean Fane and Jason Dance, erstwhile MDs of IQ-Sys and BigTec respectively.
Spectrami has been operating in the UAE for about eight years, where it uses a Vendor Extension Model (VEM) to enable Western and US vendors to establish a foothold in the region. A bit like an extreme VAD, it acts as a direct extension of vendors in target markets, providing everything required to create a ﬂourishing reseller community and exploit end user opportunities, from pre-sales technical evaluations to ongoing support.
This model has proved so successful that today Spectrami has more than 100 channel partners and revenues of about $60 million in the region.
It is now hoping to replicate this success internationally with the opening of a UK office to develop business opportunities in the UK and Western Europe. It has assembled an experienced channel and cloud orchestration team and is already working with a number of vendor partners specialising in information security and cloud infrastructure, including Datera, Apstra, Peer Software, Enveil, AppView X, Authlogics and illapa.
Technology Reseller spoke to Managing Director Sean Fane to find out more about Spectrami UK and its Vendor Extension Model.
Technology Reseller (TR): Why do you think there is room for Spectrami in the UK market?
Sean Fane (SF): If we were just distributing the same types of technology as the incumbents in this region, we probably wouldn’t have been interested in becoming another storage distributor or another security distributor – even if the vendors were new and interesting.
But there’s recently been a massive shift in the market from traditional silos, where you buy your storage here, your servers there, then your security product, then the desktop on top, to software vendors providing an as-a-service subscription model. As a result, there are now a whole number of users within any given enterprise who are subscribing to various tools to help them do their jobs, to the extent that enterprise IT departments feel they are losing control of their users.
People are saying ‘As an enterprise, all we are trying to do is deliver IT services to our employees, to help them do a better job, and overall IT to the company so that it can have some USPs or drive efficiencies. Looking at that as service provision, what is the best way of delivering that? Is it public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud? Do we want self-provisioning by users? If we control too much does that restrict our ability to grow? If we control too little does that make us vulnerable to security attacks or loss of data?’
With all these challenges, it’s actually a great time to come to market with vendors that can help enterprises transition from that old environment to this new environment. This, in turn, helps resellers that are interested in going on this journey with us to win new customers and access opportunities in big enterprises that they wouldn’t be able to do if they were just selling incumbent technology.
TR: Are you specialising in storage and security?
SF: This is where our offering differs slightly from our parent company’s. Because we had the chance to start with a clean sheet of paper in the UK, we were able to say ‘If we were to build a distributor from scratch, what would we really want to take to the reseller community to help them be disruptive?’ And that is technologies that improve or dramatically save costs in the delivery of IT services.
We are not very restrictive about what they are. That’s why our portfolio looks interesting and diverse. The common feature is that all the vendors do things in a way that drives more efficiency or saves significant costs.
The example I give is of a new organisation we are working with called illapa. It has a bespoke interface called illapa Manage, which enables service providers, resellers or enterprises themselves to look at their environment and see where they are using private cloud or on-prem desktops and cost the delivery of services in each of those environments. They can compare the cost of AWS to Azure or Alibaba and work out that if they took their seven different workloads and put them all into the Alibaba cloud, they would save x amount of money.
We have done this exercise with a couple of enterprises recently and it was mind-boggling how much they were able to save just by changing where workloads were hosted. With a click of a button, they could move them all to Alibaba or AWS or Azure and save £230,000 a month on their public cloud bill. That’s a fairly significant improvement in performance and cost.
It’s that kind of approach to the delivery of IT services that gets Jason and I excited about working in this business and helping resellers take advantage of this changing landscape.
TR: Do your vendor partners have existing distribution arrangements in place?
SF: Out of the ones we have now and others that will be coming shortly, one has another distributor in the UK. Most are relatively new vendors to the UK. In some cases, they have started out with a country manager and an SE and have been working with enterprises and with two or three resellers in the UK and we are their first foray into a formalised two-tier infrastructure with a distributor that does some of that work for them.
TR: How big is Spectrami’s UK team?
SF: There are six or seven of us now and we plan to hire another 10 within the next 12 months. We won’t be hiring people who are new to this type of work. Will Brooks I had as my sales director at IQ-Sys for 10 years; he’s extremely experienced in helping resellers go to market with technically complex products. Grant Tiller was the country manager for RES, which was recently acquired by Avanti; he’s worked in the channel for the last 20 years. These are experienced, seasoned technical sales professionals. And we’ve got two very high-end technical people who deal with the complicated stuff that goes on behind the desktop, in delivering services and understanding how technologies work. There are resources for our group function over in the Middle East, but the people we put in territory here are to support partners and to drive business.
TR: What do you see as the big challenges facing resellers today and how is Spectrami UK helping to address them?
SF: If you think about the way we consume stuff, from mobile phones to cars; we don’t buy them anymore, we pay per month to use them for a certain period and then hand them back or get a new one. We do the same with subscriptions to FT.com. Dropbox and all the other things we use. The enterprise world would like to do the same.
Yet the channel of resellers and most incumbent distributors are heavily motivated by their vendors to sell renewals of the same stuff they bought before. It’s not uncommon for a reseller that has been in business for 10 years to have built quite a successful business and their job is to make sure that when a customer renews their storage, they renew it with some more HP or IBM storage and when they renew their servers, they renew with some more servers. Margins are diminishing and the ownership of customers is diminishing, as they increasingly buy software as a service directly from vendors.
The challenge resellers face is a) how to get greater customer ownership and show incredible value to these customers so that they value their relationship with them; and b) how to get ownership of selling them a new infrastructure that delivers a 50% improvement in performance for 50% of the price, whilst capitalising on some of the cloud-based services they want to buy and proving they re the organisation that can do that for them.
It’s really important that instead of resellers just saying ‘We have got a cloud service we deliver from AWS’ or ‘We’ve got our own cloud platform that we have developed, would you like to rent a bit of space?’ that they actually own those customers in terms of being cloud advisors on which infrastructure they should build themselves; which they should put into public; how they can manage the transition between the two; all the other services around managing and optimising the sprawl that comes with users provisioning applications themselves and storing things in their own personal Dropbox folders; and all the other enterprise-related issues that having this kind of access to services creates.
There’s a great opportunity in saying ‘You can get back control of that and improve your performance by delivering your infrastructure through these new technology vendors’. That’s really what we are about: look at these vendors; they are going to help you help your enterprise customers take back control of their environment, whilst also providing the ﬂexibility to enable them to expand successfully; and you are going to become this trusted third party that has great services revenue, that has recurring business from them, and that is delivering the innovative infrastructure tools they need for this next generation of IT.
We really want to get resellers that are focused on the enterprise; that are hungry for new business; that want to be an innovator and disrupter in their customers’ world; and that say ‘We are not just going to sell you the same stuff again. We are going to show you how to do things better, faster, cheaper’. That’s what excites us, and we hope we will be able to find a subset of resellers that are really interested in that message.