Why engage with Amazon Web Services through Avnet?

AWS and Avnet Logo

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of businesses all over the world. Add to that Avnet’s successful solution-driven strategy and deep channel knowledge, and the result is a winning combination all around. AWS gives instant access to worldwide storage and compute options, as well as additional services. Even better, you only pay for what you use and for the time you use it.

The beauty of Avnet’s relationship with AWS is that partners can use and resell AWS through the Avnet Cloud Marketplace bringing a range of new opportunities to all parties.

Here we have highlighted 10 reasons why purchasing AWS through Avnet is the best and simplest option.

  1. Avnet’s local cloud team helps you build cloud solutions and become proficient quickly  on AWS
  2. ACM offers simple monthly billing, account management, dashboard with cloud spend, optimised resources, and more
  3. Create your own branded Cloud Marketplace
  4. Avnet offers additional services, providing skills that may be lacking in-house
  5. Avnet Academy provides authorised AWS training courses
  6. Get instant discounts leveraging Avnet AWS Partner status
  7. Avnet can help you consolidate yours or your customer’s spend for additional discounts
  8. Avnet invoices you in local currency
  9. AWS services on a credit line (subject to availability)

…. And if that’s not enough

  1. Partners also receive £20 free spend on their first AWS invoice through Avnet in 2016!

Avnet’s Cloud Solutions team provides quick AWS account setup and access. Under the program, partners maintain all of the benefits of being an AWS reseller plus a number of Avnet-provided benefits including account provisioning support, discounts with no volume commitments, monthly reporting and no annual program fees.

With Avnet, our partners are able to take their cloud management to an entirely new level and help drive rapid cloud adoption across the market.

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Posted under Cloud Computing

What’s next with security and cloud? Can the channel benefit?

Danny Yeowell, Security and Networking Business Unit Manager at Avnet

Danny Yeowell, Security and Networking Business Unit Manager at Avnet

Cloud. Security. Two words that can polarise debate as some channel leaders see opportunity while others see issues and for every cloud sceptic there is a cloud convert.  All too often the debate is about how secure is “cloud” whereas the focus should really be on understanding what it has to offer and how it can support an organisation’s business priorities.

The likelihood is that your customers are already utilising cloud-based services in one form or another.  According to research by Cloud Security Alliance, customer relationship management (CRM) represents the most widely adopted cloud-based solution with over 36% of companies having made the migration. The survey further highlighted that 64.9% of IT leaders think the cloud is as secure or more secure than on-premises software. This finding contrasts significantly with a global survey conducted for BT in 2014, which revealed that more than three quarters of IT decision makers (82 percent in the US; 76 percent globally) said security was their main concern about using cloud-based services.

Whilst confidence is growing, customers should not feel compelled to make the giant leap to the cloud. Public cloud isn’t a panacea and it’s important for organisations to understand their options when developing a cloud strategy. Not all data is equal and this fact is paramount when deciding where it resides. Just like traditional storage and data sharing methods, cloud computing comes with its own set of characteristics that introduce a new set of risks. Data governance is one of the primary concerns when moving to the cloud as organisations relinquish some control over their data. New assurances are needed to ensure that organisational security policies and legal obligations continue to be met.

Cloud computing offers organisations many significant benefits including:

  • Flexibility
  • Accessibility
  • Potential cost savings
  • Increased capacity.

Organisations can maximise these benefits by understanding the implications of handing over their data to a third party and by assessing the additional risks that this move creates.  Once these risks are identified, organisations can ensure that the necessary controls are in place to enable them to meet their information security and data governance objectives.

A move to the cloud has challenges and this presents an opportunity for the channel. For every organisation keen to dive head first into a cloud only environment, there will be others wanting to adopt a more considered approach and explore private or hybrid cloud environments. Every organisation has a different tolerance to risk and the channel is best placed to help them select the optimal solution that delivers the benefits of cloud computing whilst mitigating threats with the most secure solution.

Danny Yeowell has 30 years’ experience within the IT industry working for manufacturers and systems integrators.  The past 20 years’ experience has been gained within the solutions and pre-sales environment across many market sectors.  Yeowell has a breadth of knowledge spanning networking, security, data centre and unified communications, among other associated technology and service areas. 

 

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Posted under Cloud Computing, IT infrastructure, Security

This post was written by on November 22, 2016

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“NOT another dashboard!” and “No more alarms either!” – The case for visualisation in utility companies

Visualisation is a catch-all term for displaying data, usually via web or mobile, in a graphical, conversational and an intuitive way.

David Hartwell, Business Development, Digital Transformation, Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

David Hartwell, Business Development, Digital Transformation, Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

Nowhere have I seen a more urgent need for visualisation than in utilities. There are tens, or even hundreds of thousands of sensors in a typical water utility company’s network, and the increased need to understand their network better, with the ever-closer promise of practical smart metering, means there is going to be an explosion in the number of sensors connected to their systems and consequently, the amount of data they’ll have to deal with.

Information overload

Water utility control rooms in most large utilities are typically handling well over a million alarms a year and someone is supposed to look at, and make a decision on, every one of them. If we ever get smart water meters, which promise to allow flow, temperature and pressure measurement at every customer, then the problem gets much bigger than it is now.  If the water network looks like branches of a tree, then they’ll be measuring down to leaf level. Will all this data help understand the network better? I really don’t think it will until the way network data presentation changes. The benefit of such granular data is clear, as it will enable the water companies to manage their networks in a more pro-active and efficient manner, but it carries the considerable downside of being “Data rich but information poor” and overloading the operations teams.

Better network knowledge

The three main operating costs for water companies are: electrical energy, chemicals and labour. Taking the largest cost item, electrical energy as an example; water is heavy, therefore, water companies consume huge quantities of it to transfer this essential liquid to our homes and industry. If average and peak pipe pressures could be reduced in order to save energy; there’ll also be less leaks, which means a double benefit. Treatment of sewage also requires energy intensive processes to clean it to the high standards required before being discharged; this is an area where process improvements and optimisation can again reduce energy costs. If the behaviour of the network and treatment plants can be better understood and optimised in more detail, then the companies can reduce this major cost, and maybe bills will even go down. Everyone will be happy, especially customers and regulators. This is just one example of a concrete business case for visualisation.

Knowledge is not systemised

However, there is an easy trap to fall into: just measuring more doesn’t make you understand better; in fact it can be quite the opposite, as there can often be quite contradictory measurements in a complex system like a water network. An operations manager will have an innate understanding of the system and how it is behaving – they balance, optimise and cope with emergencies; the model of the network behaviour seems to be hard wired in their brains, but even they cannot do justice to all the information available from the network sensors and optimise the network as a whole, for the multitude of parameters required from temperature, pressure, flow, water quality and others.

Single system view

As yet more systems are brought in to monitor an ever-increasing range of parameters, more screens need to be reviewed, maybe with more alarms (certainly the case with IOT). A common cry from both IT and operations is – “Not another dashboard” or “Please, no more alarms”. What’s needed is an integrated, single graphical view that combines graphical information system views, system topography, disaster planning and many others into a single whole. This is not some massive systems integration project that will require huge investment and unable to show any benefit for years, but an over-the-top visualisation that draws data from current systems, but even more importantly, has the ability to learn rules from real people (e.g. operations and maintenance staff) and for itself (machine learning). Such an implementation would reduce the amount of alarms by a large factor. Couple this with predictive analytics, where, for example, weather predictions could be used to set the network up for maximum resilience to flooding, for instance pumping out all the wet wells (small reservoirs) in the affected area in advance of a major weather event, or to predict when garden sprinklers would be used and for how long.

More systems equal more silos

It’s a fact of life that information systems will be replaced and more of them will appear in the operations environment; each one of course adds value, but at the same time adds workload and another silo of information. However, the value of the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts if they could be seen as a single entity: “The network”. Visualisation of data is a good place to start; I have long held the belief that everyone in a water company should have access to a mobile app that would tell them the health of the network at least at summary level. I can think of a few operations directors who would shake my hand if I could give them an app for their Smartphone that informed them, in real time, what was happening in their part of the network; showing outfalls, water quality issues, burst mains, unplanned outages, and other key network parameters.

It’s not so hard to start if you think “Agile”

So, what to do? I recommend starting with the users who have to make the most complex operational decisions and discuss in a workshop environment, how they’d like their dashboard to look; then build a “wire frame” (non-working prototype), which should be completed in days, not weeks and constantly iterate the design and build with the users involved every step of the way. This is known as agile development and is the de facto standard for implementing quality visualisation projects. I’d make sure some machine decision making capability, however basic, was also included, as rules development is a key skill. An agile approach to IT implementations is novel in the utilities space, but where I have helped implement it, it has created users who embrace these new systems because they feel ownership, want to make it work and know how to get it improved quickly. With some help, most utilities have the internal resources to be able to do this themselves, they just need to be shown how.

 

David Hartwell started his career in the UK Ministry of Defence and spent 21 years in the nuclear industry primarily engineering control and safety systems for various production and experimental nuclear processes. Since leaving the MOD, he has lived and worked in various countries from China, United Arab Emirates, Hungary, Netherlands and the USA implementing engineering software solutions. He joined Avnet just over a year ago to join the then new IOT division. Previously, he was UK sales leader at IBM for the MobileFirst mobile platform products. His career has spanned engineering, project & programme management, pre-sales, business development and sales disciplines.

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Posted under Internet of Things (IoT)

This post was written by on November 11, 2016

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Every cloud has a silver lining: Why now is the time for the channel to take advantage of cloud computing

Michael Fischermanns, vice president cloud solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

Michael Fischermanns, vice president cloud solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

Today we are seeing cloud computing spreading across the IT landscape, offering businesses the benefits of scalability, speed and accessibility. IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Cloud IT Infrastructure Tracker¹  showed that cloud IT infrastructure spending climbed to nearly 30% of overall IT infrastructure spending in 1Q15, up from 26.4% a year before.

The cloud helps businesses of any size create products and services faster and with far greater reach than before. The eradication of barriers associated with on-premise systems now enables change and growth as fast as a business demands.  Indeed, most business solutions are suited to the cloud, which in turn opens up opportunities for the channel.

Becoming a cloud enabler is the future

Although it has come a long way in a short time, cloud computing is still in its infancy relative to its potential. To stay relevant and take advantage of the opportunity, channel partners must become cloud enablers, developing solution expertise, and even moving to a managed service provider model.

End-user customers will be looking for an IT partner that understands their industry, their business model and their customers, along with their commercial competencies and plans for the future. Indeed, a partner that can help them migrate to the cloud and develop a long-term strategy taking into account their needs, for example, in terms of back-up, business continuity and security.

This presents an exciting opportunity that will require a different way of working from the traditional reseller model. Savvy channel businesses will evolve to become a cloud partner, building an eco-system of vendors, service providers and ISVs to help with their transition, as well as training and support requirements.

At Avnet we see our role to work with business partners to help them manage this transformation, providing a wide portfolio and vendor agnostic approach to help them become an enabler of a cloud business strategy.

Reaping the benefits of the cloud model

Every cloud opportunity brings the potential for new and recurring revenue streams. From data storage and back-up, to security and compliance, business analytics and services, forward-thinking channel businesses must keep ahead of the game to provide the most relevant software, networking and security products.

Business planning will become easier as customers switch to a cloud-based managed service and therefore are less likely to move to a new supplier. Recurring revenue will mean the quarterly rush for contracts and revenue, to meet targets, will become a thing of the past.

The flexibility and scalability of the cloud also means that customers can expand their IT applications and infrastructure to support the business with minimal financial risk. This also reduces the risk to the channel with lower investment in stock. In addition, while training and education programmes have a cost, they can quickly pay dividends with consultancy and service fees.

The cloud wave is rolling on

We have seen that cloud technology has already established itself as a global mainstream solution. Uber has used cloud capabilities to transform the taxi industry, Airbnb has shaken up the hotel industry and Netflix has had an impact on the home entertainment market. No industry is immune to this change and adoption of a cloud strategy is top of the agenda for all businesses and the channel is no different.

All the benefits of the cloud can be realised if channel partners hold their nerve and continue to work together.

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Posted under Cloud Computing, IT infrastructure

Will IoT and M2M mean anything for the channel?

IoT and M2M learning are going to get a lot of coverage this year but do they offer any revenue generating potential for the channel?

Craig Smith, director IoT & Analytics, EMEA, Avnet Technology Solutions

Craig Smith, director IoT & Analytics, EMEA, Avnet
Technology Solutions

Whilst the notion “anything that can be connected, will be connected” may be a bit overwhelming, this is not a new concept for the channel where networking and security is the mainstay of business.

The opportunity that Internet of Things (IoT) opens up for enterprise connectivity is immense.  Employee productivity, increased asset utilisation and supply chain efficiencies are just some of the key benefits organisations will enjoy.

One of the most exciting opportunities is greater use of smart devices in the enterprise space.  More easily accessible, near real-time organisational and operational information will lead to greater efficiencies for frontline staff and faster more effective decision making for business leaders. The networking and security infrastructure requirements to deal with vast amounts of data and analytics will provide the perfect storm of opportunities for the channel.

In this enterprise connectivity phase of IoT, the market for analytics software will open up even further.  The need for predictive and reflective analytics will present an ideal opportunity for consultancy and services for those business partners skilled and nimble enough to take advantage of them.  Services will enable partners to stay close to customers as they find additional business applications for IoT and machine to machine (M2M).  Channel partners will need to keep ahead of the game to provide business solutions using the most relevant software, networking and security products.

Security software and services are already in high demand to manage data transfer and analytics without leaking information and risking security intrusions.  Data derived through automated responses from remote sensors requires a more advanced level of security.

For example, transmitting data remotely from an oil rig floating in the North Sea requires secure cloud storage which is capable of handing millions of small data packages securely from multiple devices and locations.  Mobility adds another dimension with the requirement for asset tracking and management, as well as secure data transmissions over public networks.  What UK business partner wouldn’t like an opportunity to take at the look at the security requirements around this application?

As the different phases of IoT and M2M arise it will be impossible for individual channel partners to keep tabs on every opportunity. Building a robust IoT ecosystem with distribution at the core will be the secret to success for the channel in the coming year.

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Posted under Internet of Things (IoT)

This post was written by on October 11, 2016

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