Under the leadership of recently appointed cloud computing vice president Jason Bystrak, D&H Distributing Co. plans to significantly expand both its internal cloud computing team and its external cloud computing partner base.
The ambitious initiative will dramatically increase the size of Harrisburg, Pa.-based D&H’s cloud business unit. “I would expect it to be at least a 3 to 4X increase in the size of the cloud team over the next 12 to 18 months,” Bystrak says.
A well-known industry veteran, Bystrak served over 22 years at Ingram Micro Inc., where his last position was vice president of cloud channel sales for North America. He became vice president of worldwide channels and distribution at data protection vendor eFolder Inc. a little over a year ago, 10 months before eFolder rebranded as Axcient following its July 2017 merger with that company.
Training both current and incoming employees to provide concrete, effective advice on building a cloud practice will be a key focus area for Bystrak’s early efforts, which will revolve around what he calls “the three Ps,” people, process, and partners. Adjusting commission models to account for the annuity-based income streams that cloud solutions generate will be a second, related priority.
“Whenever you take a legacy IT company like D&H, there’s a certain amount of internal culture transformation that needs to take place to move into an as-a-service model,” Bystrak says. “We need to look at compensation internally and how do we drive the right behavior for [our people] to really start to have cloud conversations with the existing D&H partners.”
The “process” element of D&H’s cloud push will focus on augmenting and scaling the company’s cloud storefront and procurement systems. “We do have some work to do to optimize our platform and prepare it for the type of growth we’re talking about,” says Bystrak, who adds that making onboarding easier for newcomers to D&H’s cloud line card via API integrations will be a point of emphasis as well.
As for partners, Bystrak plans to invest in efforts aimed at helping VARs become managed service providers. MSPs, he notes, have experience with remote support and recurring revenue that suits them well to delivering cloud solutions. “In order to be successful with cloud, I’ve learned that you really need to be good at managed services,” Bystrak says.
At present, he continues, only a “small percentage” of D&H partners have those skills. “We’ve got a massive opportunity to help more partners become MSPs,” Bystrak says.
D&H will devote increased attention to vendor partners as well through tighter platform-to-platform connections and the introduction of “integrated cloud clusters,” pre-assembled solution bundles designed to give buyers of products like Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite easy access to complementary software and hardware.
D&H also has a managed services cluster containing pre-integrated RMM, PSA, documentation, and other tools in the works. Once in production, the solution will give MSPs a multi-vendor alternative to single-vendor managed services suites from vendors like ConnectWise, Datto, Kaseya, and SolarWinds MSP.
“They’ve got some of the foundational tools,” Bystrak says of MSPs. “I don’t think they have them all [and] there’s other ones that we can build in and then combine with some of the cloud solutions that we’ll be offering.”
D&H’s cloud business grew 108 percent on a year-over-year basis in 2018. Last month, the company officially unveiled an alliance that allows its partners to sell the hundreds of products in San Diego-based cloud aggregator and distributor SaaSMAX‘s expansive cloud application catalog, while authorizing SaaSMAX partners to procure and sell Office 365 and other Microsoft cloud solutions through D&H.
Still, D&H hasn’t emphasized cloud computing in recent years as extensively as competitors like Ingram Micro, Tech Data, and SYNNEX have. According to Bystrak, however, those companies don’t concentrate as exclusively on smaller partners as D&H does, and don’t provide as much individualized guidance on building a cloud business.
“D&H is known for very in-depth, hands-on service and customer support,” he says. “We’re going to have the right people and marketing programs to help with that education process and it will be very personalized.”
Bystrak expects the people and process components of his to-do list to occupy most of his time in the coming months. The wait for partner-related moves may not be a long one, however.
“Stay tuned,” Bystrak says. “I think you’ll see us start to announce some different types of partnerships that we’ve got with MSP-centric companies to help us go to market.”