Westcon Group has underpinned its Imagine 2014 conference with a ‘best practice, next practice’ theme, by which it promises to focus on the former to allow resellers to invest in the latter.
The distributor shared the message with more than 450 attendees at the Sydney event and over 300 during the Melbourne leg a week prior, accompanied by a series of vendor partners which contextualised the concept within their own businesses through independent presentations and panel sessions.
Avaya opened the Sydney event with a VIP breakfast to talk about 'Avaya as a networking company', extending beyond its more common reputation as a unified communications (UC) player despite major networking projects, including its role in the recent Sochi Winter Olympics.
In line with Westcon's 'next practice' theme, Avaya network solutions director, Martin Claridge, said that network design of the past, while sufficient for previous demands, is not right moving forward. He claims the networking industry is at an inflection point, and that protocol stacks are "killing us."
Westcon's recently-appointed Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) managing director, Dave Rosenberg, welcomed guests to the day's main keynote by explaining how the distributor is shaping its channel strategy in line with 'best practice, next practice' through a five-layer model.
Internally, he claimed the company is channelling consistency and efficiency to provide outcomes for partners through financing (solutions to cater for outcome-based services and flexible purchasing), Cloud and digital distribution (via its Syndication Platform that aggregates services for resellers), and channel services (filling the gaps for resellers and vendors rather than competing against those parties).
This approach sits inside Westcon’s four business facets, according Rosenberg. Regional and global initiatives serve as the base, while reseller and vendor objectives are segregated, managed, and delivered to meet market requirements.
Rosenberg branded distribution the “glue” that sits between these components.
But to capitalise on the services provided by the distributor as a representative of its vendors, Westcon drew on Cisco chief technology officer (CTO), Kevin Bloch, (at the Melbourne leg) to demonstrate that IT departments must understand the job in order to be relevant in an industry where any executive with a credit card can purchase a service.
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Bloch opened his presentation at Westcon Imagine with a quote borrowed and rephrased from Bill Gates: “Computing is essential to a modern economy, but computers and IT departments are not.”
While this paints a bleak picture for Australians in IT, Bloch said the trends in components of the ‘intelligent network’ – Cloud, mobility, consumerisation of IT, Big Data, and social – “show huge opportunities for IT leaderships”; he also cited a Westpac survey of chief executive officers (CEO) which states that most external forces in the next three years will have technology at their peak.
Capitalising demands an understanding of the job to be done in a multi-million dollar shift which is putting IT networks under significant transitions. Of particular note is the services brokering, applications for business, and predictive analytics.
Beside adaptation is a need for knowledgeable and experienced leadership, as emphasised by Richard de Crespigny (in Sydney), who detailed how a team of airline and associated staff ensured the survival of passengers on Qantas flight QF32 on November 4, 2010.
De Crespigny said the collaborative efforts of pilots, air hosts, and air traffic control led to the effective risk assessment which resulted in the safe landing of an Airbus A380 after it suffered uncontained (and at the time, unexplained) engine failure after leaving Singapore Changi Airport.
With a step-by-step breakdown of his experience on QF32, de Crespigny said the combination of more than 77,000 flight hours and the training associated with that experience across the five pilots who were on board led to the employment of reactive and proactive trouble shooting measures which prevented chaos.
But even with that experience, de Crespigny warned of black swans; those unpredictable and unprecedented instances in which technology training is unable to positively contribute due to the lack of availability of accurate information.