The superior features of ALSO’s cloud platform and the size of the market mean “there is space” for the distribution goliath in the UK, its local leader has asserted.
Europe’s largest homegrown IT distributor launched a UK cloud business in February, handing it a presence on this side of the English channel for the first time.
The Microsoft and Adobe ally currently has around ten UK staff, led by Chief Customer Officer of ALSO Cloud UK, Mark Appleton. It placed 43rd in IT Channel Oxygen’s inaugural Top 45 must-know UK IT Distributors.
“In the UK, the cloud market is growing quicker than anywhere else in Europe,” Appleton told IT Channel Oxygen.
“Yes, it’s an over-populated landscape for indirect [Microsoft] providers in the UK, but we believe with our offering and the size of the market there is space of us.”
Partly to avoid clashing with Pax8, ALSO will focus its efforts on midmarket partners.
“Pax8 have come in and done very well at mopping up the low end. For us to go and ask an MSP that’s migrated to Pax8 in the last one or two years to migrate again is a difficult story,” Appleton said.
“We’re trying to pitch ourselves in the midmarket with our value proposition, where we believe we have more capabilities than everyone else in the UK.”
€12.4bn-sales, Switzerland-based ALSO’s cloud market is currently used in 145 countries.
Its USPs include the ability to offer a single post-month invoice, Azure fraud protection, marketing-as-a-service in a box, and – from October – free assessments on Azure.
“Our marketplace is very dynamic,” Appleton said.
“We have two-week sprints, so it’s quite quick to turn around any developments we want in our platform.”
ALSO has already rolled its relationships with Microsoft, Adobe and eight or nine other vendors to the UK, and is aiming to have 30 on board “ASAP”.
Some 30 UK partners have registered on its platform and the “first real provisioning” will begin this month, Appleton said.
The bigger goal is to build a pipeline of opportunities ahead of Q1 2024, this being 12 months after vast swathes of Microsoft customers took out an annual subscription under New Commerce Experience to avoid the 1 April 2023 price hike.
“Everyone signed up for [NCE] in February or March just before the Microsoft price increase, so potentially we can’t move any of those licenses until Q1 2024,” Appleton said.
“So it’s really about building that pipeline, getting customers registered, understanding how they use the platform in the best way and maybe provisioning some net new customers they have or net new licenses.”
Targeting tier ones
One sweet spot for ALSO has been in successfully moving tier-one Microsoft partners to an indirect model, Appleton explained.
“That’s something we’ve been very strong at doing in mainland Europe, especially in Switzerland and the Nordics. We have a lot of tier ones that have gone indirect because our platform gives them a better services,” he said.
“The procurement and vendor guys [at tier ones] don’t want to go through the channel because they see direct as their bragging rights. But we are having some serious conversations with CFOs, because they see the benefit in terms of internal Opex.”
With the exception of Greece and the UK, the three ‘pillars’ of ALSO’s business are represented in every country in Europe. It launched a greenfield start-up in Spain two years ago.
“We are just embarking on our journey,” Appleton concluded.