Technology Reseller v71

Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons. Partner with a quality UC Provider to ensure your business stands out to your audience. Scan the QR Code to find out how to become an NTA Partner. Elevate your presence in the market. THE MAGAZINE & ONLINE CHANNEL RESOURCE FOR MSPS, IT RESELLERS & IT SUPPORT PROVIDERS PAGE 28 MSPS Q&A ASK THE EXPERTS PAGE 10 PAGE 34 Industry leaders react to the PSTN switch-off delay David Tulip looks back on Network Group’s first 30 years Sandeep Johri answers questions about Checkmarx One security platform TECHNOLOGY RESELLER MAGAZINE I N PRI NT & ONLI NE IN PRINT & ONLINE SINCE 2016

AD Sounds simple, right? That’s because it’s all taken care of. Brother MPS – Make Printing Simple. We recognise what matters to your customers day-to-day. So whatever their printing needs, we’ll be “At your side” to find the solution that simplifies printer admin, saves time, keeps costs down, and helps them stay productive. Learn more about Brother MPS by visiting BrotherZone. With Brother Managed Print Services, your customers will benefit from: • No long-term commitments • Ink and toner delivered before they run out • Quick breakdown support • Easy supplies recycling Brother MPS. Make Printing Simple for businesses.   03 If you no longer wish to receive Technology Reseller magazine please email your details to [email protected] COMMENT The trouble with this fast-moving industry is that while I am wrapping up the latest issue and preparing it for press, I am having interesting discussions about articles for the next one. Thus, I found myself earlier today having a conversation with Brandon Lieberthal of TD SYNNEX about AI PCs. He believes these are revolutionary for the channel, not least because they turn a hardware sale into a consultancy-based solution sale. MSPs make much of their position as trusted advisors and, with AI, that status has real value. An AI PC can’t be separated from the applications it will be running, which will require discussions about pretty much everything – strategy, security, staffing, you name it. For this reason, Lieberthal says it is important for everyone – vendors, distributors, MSPs and end users – to improve education and awareness of AI use cases and applications. Look out for our write-up in next month’s issue. It's easy to say MSPs should do more to educate themselves, but a lot harder to put into practice, especially when there is such a shortage of people with the right IT skills. I can’t help feeling that AI will quickly become a staple of Network Group’s Thursday morning meetings. In our feature on page 10, David Tulip explains how over the years Network Group has evolved from being primarily a buying group into a forum where members can share knowledge, find answers to problems that keep them up at night and gain expert advice on new and emerging technologies. Working together and being supportive of each other may be the best way to approach AI and harness its potential. The dangers of not working together are evident in the PSTN switch-off, which has been delayed until the end of January 2027. On page 28 we ask leading figures from the comms industry for their reaction to the postponement. Most welcome it on the basis that it will provide more time to find solutions to problems that have been thrown up, particularly around telecare. But there is frustration too, mainly amongst resellers who fear it will prolong the process and give businesses another chance to kick the can down the road. What everyone can agree on is that the Government (whoever that might be) needs to step up and do more to encourage businesses and the public to make the switch. James Goulding – Editor, [email protected] Technology Reseller is published by Kingswood Media Ltd., 10 Amherst House, 22 London Road, Sevenoaks TN13 2BT • Tel: 01732 759725 Email: [email protected] No part of Technology Reseller can be reproduced without prior written permission of the publisher. © 2024 Kingswood Media Ltd. Design: Sandtiger Media Comment Register online To receive your regular FREE printed copy of Technology Reseller Magazine simply fill in our online registration form at Read Technology Reseller online, on tablets and smart phones Join us : Follow us technology-reseller-magazine Editor: James Goulding 07803 087228 · [email protected] Publishing Director, Social Media and Web Editor: Neil Trim 01732 759725 · [email protected] Advertising Director: Ethan White 01732 759725 · [email protected] Account Manager: Jeff Root 01732 759725 · [email protected] Art Director: Nick Pledge 07767 615983 · [email protected] ISSN 2632-9301 (Print) ISSN 2632-931X (Online) 04 Bulletin Wavenet confirms plans to join forces with Daisy Corporate Services 10 MSPs Technology Reseller talks to David Tulip about Network Group’s first 30 years 16 Working Together This month’s round-up of new distribution agreements 18 Distributor News Varlink acquired by Poindus Systems 20 Telephony How is taking the pain out of on-hold messaging 22 Cover Story Partner with a quality UC provider 24 Customer Experience TelXL brings contact centre as a service to SMEs 24 Collaboration EvolveIP fires up partners at Williams Racing F1 Experience Centre 26 Apps How Gigabit Networks supports reseller partners 28 Ask the Experts Our panel of experts reacts to the postponement of the PSTN switch-off 32 Connectivity How Comms365 helps partners address customers’ connectivity needs 34 Q&A We quiz CEO Sandeep Johri about the Checkmarx One application security platform 36 Events Paul Johnson reports on the first Technology Reseller Golf Society meeting of 2024 37 Opinion James Munroe, Channel Director of Trend Micro, on why it could pay to be an MSSP 39 People New faces, new places 42 60 seconds with… Tim Bowers, CEO of HaloPSA TECHNOLOGY RESELLER MAGAZINE I N PRI NT & ONLI NE IN PRINT & ONLINE SINCE 2016 Business Design Centre · London · 17 September 2024 ICT · MANAGED IT · MOBILE · PRINT 24

01732 759725 04 RESELLER NEWS BGF-backed Celerity acquires Chilli IT Celerity, the North-West IT services provider, has acquired Chester-based MSP and IBM Gold Partner Chilli IT, increasing its business turnover to more than £40 million and its headcount to 95. The company’s first transaction since it attracted a £15 million investment from growth capital investor BGF in 2021 is expected to boost Celerity’s technical expertise and unlock growth opportunities through complementary services and expansion into new sectors, notably logistics and retail. Celerity COO Craig Aston, said: “We’ve experienced strong organic growth with our managed services and have been looking for potential acquisitions to support the strategic direction of the business. Today’s deal enhances our service offerings while enabling cross-selling opportunities to drive growth through integration. The Chilli team brings a different, but complementary, set of technical skills to ours and a good client base.” Founded in 2002, Celerity provides intelligent cybersecurity, data protection and data visualisation services, while also managing and optimising legacy environments within the data centre and cloud. It plans to retain the Chilli brand and its 17-strong team in Chester. ··· Bates IT joins ITM in Aliter Capital II fund Aliter Capital LLP, the private equity buy and build specialist, has acquired Bates IT, an Essex-based provider of ICT managed and support services to the NHS and private healthcare organisations with capital from the Aliter Capital II fund. The deal sees Bates IT become part continued... Wavenet confirms plan to merge with Daisy Corporate Services IT specialists Wavenet and Daisy Corporate Services have confirmed plans to join forces and create the largest independent IT managed service provider in the UK. The £500m revenue company will employ around 2,000 staff and support over 22,000 UK businesses and public sector organisations, delivering cloud, cyber security and connectivity solutions. Wavenet’s existing private equity partner Macquarie Capital Principal Finance will become the largest shareholder in the merged company with Matthew Riley and other Daisy shareholders retaining a minority stake in the business. Riley will join the Wavenet Board as a non-executive director. Wavenet and Daisy have both expanded significantly through a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisitions in recent years. Wavenet has completed six acquisitions since 2021 and, in June 2023, Daisy acquired ECSC. Future growth opportunities will come from the combined company’s extended market reach and from cross and up-selling to the Wavenet and Daisy customer bases. Wavenet Chairman Bill Dawson said: “We are thrilled to be joining forces with Daisy. By combining our strengths, resources and expertise, we are poised to create a stronger and more innovative organisation, well positioned to maximise on the rising tide markets of cyber, cloud and intelligent networks.” of a group in Aliter Capital’s second fund, alongside Milton Keynes based ITM Communications, a UK provider of critical network infrastructure services, in which Aliter invested in January 2023. Simon Fieldhouse, who was appointed ITM Group CEO in October 2023, said: “The team at Bates IT is a great cultural fit with ITM. Their highly developed specialist experience with long-established customer engagements in the healthcare sector opens exciting growth opportunities for the business. This aligns with our intended development of a specialist healthcare practice within a nationwide critical network and ICT infrastructure service business, delivering an extended managed service portfolio to our customers.” Fieldhouse will work closely with Bates IT’s principal shareholders and directors, Barry and Christopher Fuller, to drive further growth organically, whilst continuing to pursue a nationwide buy and build strategy to gain scale and a national footprint. Aliter is looking to acquire other businesses as bolt-ons to ITM, including critical network and ICT infrastructure specialists with strong capabilities in IoT, intelligent edge computing, safety and security, 5G, SDWAN and Data Centre and Colocation services. ··· IT firm ramps up helpdesk team as business booms Derbyshire managed service provider True MSP is looking to recruit seven new technical helpdesk staff by June after launching a service that is expected to attract a flood of new clients. Through a partnership with Pax8, the Castle Donington-based MSP founded by Neil Shaw and Tim Rookes will be offering clients the ‘Triple Cloud’ of Microsoft systems – Microsoft 365, Microsoft Azure and Dynamics Business Central – for a fraction of the usual cost, bringing it within reach of SMEs for the first time. True MSP says it is able to offer Dynamics Business Central, an all-inone cloud-based application for running a business’s entire operation, from accounting and stock control to sales, logistics and customer service, for just a few thousand pounds, compared to the £100,000+ that large businesses pay. True MSP is expecting its Triple Cloud offering to help boost turnover by £500,000 over the next 12 months to £2.5m. ··· Symatrix acquired by US enterprise solutions provider Symatrix, a Manchester-based Oracle HCM, Payroll, ERP, SCM and OCI partner, has been acquired by US enterprise solutions provider Applications Software Technology (AST), as part of the latter’s global expansion strategy. The deal follows a period of strong growth for Symatrix, including an 80% increase in revenue (in the 12 months to February 2024), supported by a 60% increase in headcount, a 20% expansion of its client base and entry into new Bill Dawson Wavenet Craig Aston, Celerity Simon Fieldhouse, ITM Group 05 AD NIMANS The ‘go to’ place for Microsoft Teams Certified solutions The ‘go to’ people for Microsoft Teams Certified solutions Headsets, Handsets, Audio Conferencing and Meeting rooms solutions.

01732 759725 06 RESELLER NEWS continued... market sectors, notably communications, media & utilities (CMU) and local government, as well as continued growth in its core markets of central government, finance, higher education and retail. In addition, Symatrix has continued to build its presence in India with a 50% increase in headcount. The acquisition will give AST an established UK customer base and, through Symatrix’s consulting expertise, expand AST’s capabilities across Oracle Cloud Applications, including Supply Chain and Human Capital Management. Symatrix CEO Chris Brooks and the company’s leadership team will remain in their roles and look to expand their UK customer base with a new suite of offerings from AST. Brooks said: “AST is a best-in-class enterprise solutions provider that has developed into a premier consultancy for complex Cloud needs across public and commercial industries. Joining forces with AST is a natural progression for Symatrix and allows us to service our customers with even greater resources and technical services.” ··· NG Bailey strengthens comms offering The IT Services business of NG Bailey has enhanced its ability to deliver endto-end SD-WAN and cloud-based unified communications solutions through a strategic partnership with wholesale telecommunications vendor PlatformX Communications (PXC). The independent engineering and services business expects the relationship to bring in £500,000 of new business opportunities in 2025 alone. Kelly Tedesco, Managing Director at NG Bailey IT Services, said: “PXC is a well-known business within telecoms and this strategic partnership will support our ongoing mission to improve connectivity and deliver better businesses.” The partnership with PXC follows NG Bailey’s recent agreement with Ring Central and collaboration with Nokia to deliver 5G solutions to UK industries. ··· Trams|Econocom gains Microsoft expertise through Ingentive partnership Trams|Econocom is expanding its offering beyond the Apple ecosystem through a strategic partnership with Ingentive, a Microsoft Partner focused on digital transformation and technical enablement. The alliance will enable Trams|Econocom to leverage Ingenitive’s expertise and offer new and existing customers expert guidance and support across all Microsoft applications, including the Power Platform suite, Microsoft CoPilot and Pro Code solutions. Warren Peel, Managing Director of Trams|Econocom, said: “Our partnership with Ingentive signifies a strategic alignment with our parent company, Econocom, as we work towards achieving our ambitious 5-year strategic plan. Everyone knows we’re experts in everything Apple, and now we’re replicating this model to Microsoft technologies by organically growing our in-house expertise and partnering with experts such as Ingentive.” One of the flagship offerings from Ingentive is CoPilot45, a one-stop AI change and delivery program that aims to get organisations AI-ready in under 45 days. ··· Cheltenham MSP sets the standard ReformIT, a Managed IT Service and Security Provider (MSSP) based in the UK’s cyber-capital, Cheltenham, has been accredited as both a Cyber Advisor and a Cyber Essentials Certification Body. The Cyber Advisor scheme, launched by the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the IASME Consortium, provides accreditation to organisations offering cyber security analysis, advice and practical support to SMEs, focusing on key criteria for Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus certification. Neil Smith, Managing Director of ReformIT, said: “It’s a real honour to have ReformIT recognised as both a Cyber Essentials Certification Body and a Cyber Advisor. This means that we are the only firm locally to be able to offer complete end-to-end government approved security assessment and certification under one roof, from cyber security gap analysis to NCSC Cyber Essentials certification.” ··· NS3 Framework success for Black Box Black Box, a provider of IT services & consulting, LAN/WAN connectivity, unified communications and SMS/Wi-Fi emergency messaging technologies, has won a place on Crown Commercial Service’s Network Services 3 Framework. Neil Barton, Black Box Business Development Manager, UK and Ireland, said: “As a trusted and accredited supplier on the CCS NS3 Framework, Black Box is better positioned than ever to provide comprehensive solutions and services in communications, collaboration, networking and security technology. With expertise across these areas, we bring proven solutions and sound IT strategy to customers across national and local government, education, healthcare, manufacturing and retail.” ··· Intercity boosts Microsoft expertise with Centrality move Intercity, the Birmingham-based provider of cloud, security, communications and managed IT services, is super-charging its Microsoft capabilities with the acquisition of Centrality, a Bedfordshire-based Microsoft Solutions Partner with 25 years’ Microsoft experience and 100 employees. The acquisition transforms Intercity into a £60m turnover company with a 325-strong team. Centrality’s workforce will continue to work from their Bedfordshire office as part of a smooth transition into the Intercity Group, with CEO David Keeling joining the Intercity board as Managing Director of a new division leveraging Centrality’s deep expertise in Microsoft products and solutions. ··· Crowdstrike success for BT and Softcat BT and Softcat were among the winners at the CrowdStrike Europe Partner Awards held at the company’s annual Partner Symposium in Venice, Italy. BT was named European GSI Partner of the Year, with Softcat winning the Northern European Partner of the Year Award. CrowdStrike provides an advanced cloud-native platform for protecting the critical areas of enterprise risk – endpoints and cloud workloads, identity and data. Chris Brooks, Symatrix Neil Smith Neil Barton Kelly Tedesco, NG Bailey Warren Peel, Trams | Econocom 07 RESELLER NEWS Integrity360 partners with Armis to provide full visibility into attack surface Global reach Total IT Global Computing has entered into an agreement with Circular Computing to supply its BSI-certified remanufactured laptops to its global customer base. CEO Akhil Gupta said: “With Circular Computing’s technology and Total IT Global’s worldwide presence and capabilities in Device as a Service (DaaS), we can introduce a whole new way of deploying hardware to the world.” Each carbon neutral laptop, remanufactured to perform ‘equal to or better than new’, produces just 6.34% of the CO2 emissions of an average new laptop, according to Cranfield University. ··· Selhurst Park displays to boost Kogo brand awareness IT support and cybersecurity expert Kogo has joined the Crystal Palace Associate Partnership Programme to raise its brand awareness with football fans inside Selhurst Park stadium and with television audiences worldwide. In a deal arranged by sports rights specialist Eleven Sports Media, Kogo’s IT solutions will be promoted across pitchfacing and crowd-facing LED displays and fan engagement platforms in Selhurst Park. There will also be branding opportunities on Eleven’s StadiumTV and StatTV fan engagement channels, plus exclusive hospitality and partner events with other Associate Partner companies. ··· A friendly voice Independent telecoms provider Rubix VT is helping combat social isolation in Brighton and Hove through a new partnership with loneliness charity Together Co. As part of its installation of a new telecoms system at the charity, Rubix VT has donated free telecoms services for 20 users, worth £10,500. In addition, five Rubix VT employees have been trained as at Together Co Telephone Befriending Volunteers to provide regular companionship and support through weekly phone calls to those in need. ··· Zest4 joins BT Wholesale partner network Zest4 is giving its 600+ partners access to the EE mobile network, in addition to O2 and Vodafone, after joining BT Wholesale’s Partner Plus Programme. This means that they can provide all three networks on one bill and give their end users the best network choice for their area. Rob Foster, Zest4 Channel Sales Director, said: “The channel has been asking for wider UK coverage, and we’re now delivering for our partners exactly that. We’re already registering lots of interest, and Zest4 is keen to speak to any new partners who would like the opportunity to deliver services via all three networks under one bill.” ··· First Class charity golf day First Class Business Solutions Ltd has raised £1,000 for WaterAid at its second annual Nikki Baxter Challenge Cup held at East Herts Golf Club on Tuesday 14th May. Six teams took part – from Lexmark, Sharp, First Class Business Solutions (with two teams), United Client Services and Elite Document Solutions. The team event was won by Elite; James Morrison from UCS won the individual event; Daren Parsons from Elite won the longest drive; and Chris Hawkes from Elite won the prize for nearest the pin. ··· Camwood to deliver Pentaho managed services Camwood, a leading IT consultancy specialising in digital evolution through the lens of applications, is bringing Pentaho’s data analytics platform to market via a new managed services offering. Through a new master service agreement with Pentaho, a subsidiary of the Japanese multinational conglomerate Hitachi, Camwood will offer data assessments, migration to optimised storage and ongoing management to ensure customers are deriving maximum value from their data assets. Pan-European cybersecurity specialist Integrity360 is partnering with Armis, a US-headquartered asset intelligence cybersecurity company that includes Fortune 100, 200 and 500 companies and government bodies in its customer base. The partnership will give Integrity360 customers visibility into their entire attack surface, including all managed and unmanaged devices across IT, Operational Technology (OT) and Internet of Things (IoT). Integrity360 will offer managed services to enable organisations to leverage the Armis platform to map their entire attack surface, identify potential cyber security gaps, spot anomalies across their asset inventory and increase the efficacy of existing security measures. Brian Martin, Director of Product Management at Integrity360, said: “We live in an increasingly connected world, underpinned by the exponential expansion of the attack surface due to cloud, IoT, OT, Mobile, Identity and the work-fromanywhere era. This is only set to continue in the years to come, which means the attack surface will be forever expanding. With more devices and more threats, companies need solutions, services and partners that bolster cyber security and – more importantly – resilience. “Alongside Armis, we believe that full visibility is key and aim to equip businesses with effective threat exposure management solutions and services which not only monitor the environment and prevent attacks but limit their impact in the worst-case scenario.” continued...

01732 759725 08 RESELLER NEWS Andrew Carr, Managing Director of Camwood, said: “Our core services since our inception have revolved around the assessment, modernisation and management of applications for our customers, and we’re looking forward to applying that same mindset to our new data services offering. The Pentaho brand needs no introduction. With our services wrapped around the best-in-class Pentaho platform, our customers can unlock insights from their data like never before.” These will enable customers to bring structure to their data with a data catalogue, showing what data they have, who has access to it, where each data piece is located and why they have it, with Camwood identifying data challenges and applying the technology to fix those problems. In addition, Camwood will help customers organise their data correctly so they can leverage new AI tools and integrations effectively, alongside mission critical applications and activities. The Pentaho platform is able to work on-premise, in a data centre, a hybrid setup or a pure cloud environment. ··· Everything Tech strengthens professional services play Managed IT Service Provider (MSP) Everything Tech has established a new office in Derby as it continues to target accountancy, legal and M&A firms with technology and IT support to underpin their digital transformation, growth and acquisition strategies. At the same time, the MSP, which started life as MITSG, has resumed its own M&A drive following investment from NatWest, acquiring Cardium Outsourcing, trading as Your Office Anywhere, in March. This builds on four acquisition the company made in 2022 after securing investment from BOOST & Co (IT Farm, the CSS Group, Nexbridge Communications and Everything Tech). Staffed by a team of 20, the Derby office, in addition to Everything Tech’s existing operations in Manchester and Sheffield, will help the company provide UK-wide support to professional services customers. Services include cyber security auditing, pre-signature technical audits for highly acquisitive organisations, cloud migration, 24/7 IT support and infrastructure, monitoring and maintenance, cyber security, systems migration, AI and RPA. Group Sales Director Danny Mills said: “Many of our clients are undergoing rapid growth and digital transformation. They are making acquisitions and onboarding new businesses, as well as managing the demands of fast-paced workforces spread across multiple office and hybrid working locations. Growth of this level presents a number of challenges. They need to be able to consolidate, migrate and scale up multiple IT systems and maintain productivity levels by ensuring seamless user access to applications, all while guaranteeing data security and compliance and reduced costs. This is where we come in.” Mark Adams, Head of Partner Services at TC Group, which was supported through an acquisition by Everything Tech, said: “Everything Tech has provided us with excellent service and project support during a period of rapid growth. Our ability to finalise an acquisition on the Friday and have all applications, users and data available on Monday allowed us to integrate our people and deliver on our growth plans.” FourNet awarded Nice Platinum status Digital transformation and customer experience expert FourNet has been awarded Platinum Status by NICE, one of the world’s leading CX AI providers. FourNet, a provider of communications, cloud, contact centre, managed services and secure infrastructure solutions, with offices in Manchester and Derby, is one of just four Solution Providers this year and the only partner in the UK to earn the top tier accreditation in NICE’s Partner Programme. Globally, only 14 companies across all partner types have reached NICE Platinum Status in 2024. Last year, FourNet was named NICE Customer Experience Partner of the Year. ··· AI drives GPU boom for ETB Technologies The proliferation of AI technology has fuelled record GPU sales figures for refurbished technology supplier ETB Technologies, with the total value of GPU sales in 2023 more than doubling to £1.1 million. This year, the price of GPUs has remained higher than average with supply often struggling to keep up with demand. Nick Stapleton, Managing Director of ETB Technologies, said: “The increase in demand for GPUs over the last 24 months has been unprecedented. In all my time working in the industry, I’ve never seen one new piece of technology drive an increase in sales in the way artificial intelligence has. It’s not a trend we expect to change anytime soon either as the appetite for AI among our customers continues to grow. “It is really encouraging to see so many businesses viewing refurbished GPUs as a viable option. This is a trend we hope and expect to see continue as businesses look to wring every last drop of value out of their investment in technology infrastructure.” Dorset and Cornwall police turn to BT BT has secured a £70 million, ten-year managed IT services contract with Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police. Together, the two forces handle more than one million emergency and nonemergency calls and respond to more than 118,000 incidents of recorded crime each year. BT will manage IT services for the two forces, creating a future-fit infrastructure to support more joined-up policing for the 5,100 police officers and 3,500 police staff that work within the two forces. The contract covers field mobile, airwave vehicle and handheld connectivity for emergency services; staff collaboration systems; customer service desk applications; and security. continued... Danny Mills, Everything Tech Nick Stapleton 09 DISTRIBUTOR NEWS With Archiving, you can automatically preserve, search, and retrieve critical business call recording, chats or video meetings for productivity, legal, or compliance reasons. FREE ARCHIVING Your customer’s communication data has a lot of valuable knowledge, intellectual property and insights. The ‘go to’ place for NEC FREE 30-day rolling retention plans included with UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT licences Learn more

10 NETWORK GROUP 01732 759725 Following Network Group’s 30th anniversary Gala event at Wembley Stadium on April 25, Technology Reseller caught up with David Tulip, Director of the MSP community, to discuss how the Group has evolved since its foundation in 1994. Below are eight ways in which he believes Network Group has changed and continues to change w Focus has moved from buying to knowledge-sharing “Network Group was originally the Network Buying Group and we still get called Network Buying Group, or NGB, more than a decade after we dropped ‘Buying’ from our name and became Network Group. “Buying is in our DNA and we still say to SaaS vendors and hardware providers ‘Treat us like a £200 million pound organisation not like a £1 million or £2 million organisation because collectively that’s what we’re worth’. But really buying is a by-product of what we do. “Today, the value of Network Group lies in knowledge-sharing, sharing best practice and being a trusted space where members can learn from each other: ‘I've just lost a level two tech – what am I doing wrong?’, ‘How much do you pay your guys?’, ‘How do you keep them engaged?’. Or ‘Guys, I’m thinking of exiting the business, what are my options?’. “It’s lonely running a business of 20 people and great to be able to turn to peers you trust. We've had all sorts of stories shared within our walls, of challenges, vulnerabilities, even mental health. There’s real friendship and support for each other.” e Network Group has become a more inclusive ecosystem for vendors “We have three revenue streams. One is a membership fee paid by nearly 90 members, which includes a hotel room every quarter so they can come and be part of our meetings. Network Group is an active community. If you're not going to bother attending frequently, we'd ask you to leave. Network Group is a movement of people that help each other, it’s a cooperative. The membership is the centre of the dartboard. “The inner ring, the 25, represents our preferred partners. We have about 40 vendors and distributors who pay a quarterly membership fee, giving them two expos a year and attendance at our January and July events. Over the years our ecosystem has become more inclusive. Instead of partners just turning up to present to us, which is what used to happen, we very much bring them into this ecosystem and ask them to deliver value and help us, rather than just pitch to us. In return, they hear about the challenges MSP owners face, so they get some real value and learning as well. “We are approached all the time by partners because we're a gateway to an opportunity. And we have those calls because we're always looking to put our members ahead of the curve. We try to pick up young companies with a view to helping them. There were 48 vendors in the expo hall at Wembley and some were new companies – the likes of Inforcer (see panel overleaf). “The third revenue stream is rebates from partners, which we typically pass back through to our members to help incentivise growth.” r Network Group’s influence extends across the Atlantic “We get more interest from North America now. A good number of people from there come to our events, the likes of Danny Jenkins, CEO of Threatlocker, who flew in to attend our Wembley Gala. That never used to happen. Now, we get probably six vendors every quarter flying in from North America to be a part of what we're doing. “My approach is to be wholly transparent about what they can expect. If an audience of 90 or so technology service providers of this size and demographic is a good audience for you, why wouldn’t you want to be in our room. If it’s not a good audience, don't bother coming. I want it to be a no-brainer. Yes, winning new business would be great but it is also an opportunity to maintain relationships from a review and catch up point of view. Individually our members might not warrant a visit every quarter, but at our events you can meet dozens of your customers in one place.” q Today, it’s all about MSPs “In 1994, Network Buying Group was set up because the founders felt smaller retailers and resellers were being offered poor pricing and receiving inadequate service from account managers. “When I joined it 11 years later, there were 32 member companies. Half were in retail and half were b2b resellers or breakfix, early MSPs. It was very much a 50:50 b2c:b2b world. “Today, the group has evolved predominantly into a managed service provider (MSP) community, with approaching 90 member companies. The retail guys haven’t all disappeared – 10% of our group have some retail outlets – and they are still part of the group and supporting small businesses in their local area. “The average Network Group member has revenues of £2 million to £2.5 million, will employ 16-18 staff and manage 2,500 endpoints. Our smallest member has a turnover of £400,000 and our largest £12 million. Member companies are typically growing 20% a year. “Our network stretches from the top of Scotland, down to the Channel Islands. We cover Wales and we have 7 or so members in Ireland, plus one in Gibraltar. “I don’t want the membership to grow any bigger than 120 companies in case we lose that community ethos that makes us so unique. I'm a gatekeeper to that.” 30 years and counting Continued... Network Group Chairman Michael Morgan with David Tulip 11 BUSINESS BRIEFING AD Giacom Giacom’s cloud marketplace provides over 6,000 MSPs and Resellers access to Cloud, Comms, and Hardware products and services from the world’s top vendors and carriers. Our range of automation tools and integrations will streamline your business ops. And, with our enablement resources and tech expertise, you can build the skills you need for the future. Imagine growing your business faster. You can, with Giacom. 03304 333 888 what we can do together

01732 759725 12 NETWORK GROUP ...continued sent business owners event boxes with some decent beers, some fancy coffee, the odd book and other stuff. That enabled us to maintain a revenue stream and we won a CRN Sales and Marketing Award.” y Network Group events have become a four and a half star experience “For one of our virtual events we had a conversation with Ruby Wax, and that is another big change we've seen over the years. Network Group now pays for leading speakers and thought leaders to speak at our events, like Stuart Pearce at Wembley, which we never used to do. “When I first started, I remember going to a meeting in a room bolted onto a Toby Carvery in Wootton, Northamptonshire. There were 30 of us and someone came in to talk about cables or whatever. Since then, we’ve progressed to what I would call three and a half star events and, in the last five or six years, to four and a half star events. “We're more professional now and so are the companies that participate in our events. The founders were telling me that when they started out they used to bring sandwiches to events. The experience is very different today. What hasn’t changed is the ethos of trying to help members be better and be part of something bigger than themselves.” u The MSP has come of age and the evidence is M&A “M&A has been a big change – we would be at over 100 members by now if it wasn't for M&A – and that was driven to a great extent by Covid when PE companies needed something to put their money into. In that sense, MSPs have come of age. “Of course, MSPs have always been important. It’s just no one knew it. Distributors never really knew what an MSP was – they typically thought they were bad resellers because they don’t buy very much. The company I worked for nearly 30 years ago used to say ‘own the network and you own the customer’. Now, if you own the MSP, you own the customer. MSPs have become valuable and everyone wants a piece. “I'm interested to see what M&A does to the market. Vendors upstream have never been further away because they're getting bigger and bigger and we’re just numbers on a spreadsheet. Now we’re starting to see that with MSPs. They are getting bigger and bigger, which means they will get further away from the end user customer.” i Regulation is needed if MSPs are to retain trusted advisor status “At the moment, you can become an MSP just by calling yourself one. That doesn't make you a good MSP. We think accreditation is coming for companies with 50-plus staff and £10 million pounds in turnover. But there aren't many of that size, so does that create a two-tier market? We're keen to use the frameworks that are there to raise the bar. We want to make sure our members go over and above any standards and push each other to be the best.” t Covid was a game-changer for Network Group “We've always served a purpose, but Covid really catapulted us into the spotlight. We had our first Zoom call as lockdown was introduced, joined by 75 of our then 80 members, and we've kept them up even since. We have a weekly call every Thursday. It's purely optional and anywhere from five to 40 people normally take part. Sometimes we'll bring a partner in to update us on something, but more often I'll moderate the sessions and say ‘Right, what are we going to talk about this week?’ and they’ll go ‘Well, I'm struggling with this’ or ‘I've got a problem with that’. “Covid could have been really challenging for us. The income from our events helps run the team, so we had to pivot to virtual events. What's worse than a two-day IT conference? A two-day online IT conference. Instead of doing a virtual two-day conference, our Head of Marketing Marie Devlin and I decided to split it up into bite-sized chunks spread across two weeks. We called it Lunch and Learn and Network Group Gala Network Group’s annual Exhibition, Gala and Awards evening at Wembley Stadium was attended by a record 260 members and partners. The itinerary included workshops with leading vendors such as Brigantia, Huntress, N-able, Uptime, Pia, ScalePad, ThreatLocker and Ingram Micro; an expo with 48 exhibitors (see list); and a gala dinner, awards ceremony and charity auction which raised £30,465 for the Street Soccer Foundation. This year’s award winners were: n MSP of the Year (Sub 1500 Endpoints) – 1-Fix n MSP of the Year (Plus 1500 Endpoints) – Morgan & Morgan n New Member of the Year – Start Tech n Member Contribution to Group – Net Primates & Southern IT n Retailer of the Year – DLG Computers n Partner of the Year – Brigantia n New Partner of the Year – Inforcer n Security Vendor of the Year – OpenText Cybersecurity n Account Manager of the Year – Alicia Shepherd, Terra Computer n Channel Champion of the Year – Tim Coach, Pia Exhibitor list Alogic Asanti Augmentt Bloom Cloud Brigantia bvoip Canon CloudOlive Comms365 ConnectSecure ConnectWise CompTIA CyberQP Egnyte Gamma Grenke Huntress Inforcer Ingram Micro IT Governance Kaseya Liongard Mesh Microsoft Mi-Crow N-able OpenText Pax8 Pia Pillr QA Rewst Sage Salsbuildr ScalePad Cloud In The Channel Sophos Street Soccer Foundation Technology Reseller Teknov8/Telev8 Terra ThreatLocker Titan HQ Telco To Go Uptime WatchGuard Zest Lifestyle

01732 759725 14 BUSINESS BRIEFING Julia Thomas, Head of Channel Marketing, Ricoh and cross-sell opportunities follow, from storage and compliance to audit trails. As a vendor, we make ourselves available to work with our partners’ end customers. We help them articulate the solution’s benefits clearly, and the annual conference is my chance to uncover new sales ideas I can share with our partners.” As we chat, James recalls how Adam Butler, Workplace Wellbeing Advocate and Founder at Officeology, described the value of a Ricoh partnership: “Ricoh’s deep industry knowledge has helped us deliver complex solutions to our customers. We are excited to keep this partnership going, creating new solutions that tackle real-world problems and bring success to both of us.” At DocuWorld, James will attend VIP tracks and events, including the Night of The Champions party, where he can glean insights to share with established and new partners. As James boards his flight, I call one of our Digital Services Managers, Vince Williams. Vince is slowly making his way through the morning M1 traffic to deliver partner training at our offices in Northampton. He explains that many partners come from print, and his job is to equip them to sell a wide range of new and innovative business lines, boosting their future-readiness and adaptability. Today, Vince will demonstrate how to sell Smart Lockers. He will show them how to identify vertical markets to target, customer pain points to address, and the full range of locker solutions available. Most Ricoh competitors only sell one type of locker, yet many customers require multiple types of locker to fit their different needs. Ricoh offers a range of solutions, from click and collect to asset management. “Ricoh has installed and supported Amazon smart lockers since 2016,” says Vince. “That means we can provide our partners with the nuanced insights to do the same, ultimately creating better results for their end customers.” Vince believes it's essential to regularly get in a room with partners and exchange ideas face-to-face. “My role is national,” Vince explains. “I travel where I’m needed, Ricoh is looking to onboard new partners in our reseller channel, and this prompted me to reflect on the value we can add to these relationships. So, on a bright Wednesday morning, I caught up with some of the Ricoh Partner Team as they went about their day. Instead of paperwork, pricing matrices, and SLAs, I discovered a world of innovation, information sharing, and relationships that are far from transactional It’s 7:26 a.m., and James Chantler, our Business Development Manager for Document Services, is waiting airside at East Midlands Airport. He’s heading to Berlin for the annual DocuWorld Partner Conference. Ricoh has a mix of people attending the event, each hoping to uncover trends, challenges, and opportunities to better equip our twohundred-plus partners to find and grow new opportunities. As James waits at his gate, he explains the benefits partners derive from selling DocuWare with Ricoh’s support. “DocuWare is a gateway sale; as soon as the conversation with a customer begins, you start to understand how documents and data are routed around their organisation. With that insight, upsell Become a Ricoh partner

15 BUSINESS BRIEFING so if a partner asks to be introduced to a new line, I tend to take the product to them. But Smart Lockers are a bit big to fit in the boot of a BMW 3 series, so I’ll meet them at our central Birchwood office, which is modern and bright - and more importantly, where you can get a decent cup of coffee!” I leave Vince to caffeinate his guests and make my final call of the morning to Daniel Murphy, our New Business Partner Sales Director for the channel. He has just finished a quarterly review with one of his partners, Softcat. He’s in the central London office today, and starts by explaining how we do much more than supply products and services for Softcat. “Softcat is the UK’s biggest IT reseller. They’re energetic and have a strong customer service ethos, which aligns with our own commitment to excellence. Our job is to help them generate new revenue. We help build the quotes and join the customer calls, aligning frequently to ensure they’re fully supported from pitch to deal won.” “This is the best year we’ve ever had,” continues Daniel. “The relationship has grown beyond a partnership, and I feel like we have so many opportunities we’re working on together. ” In addition to capturing the results from last quarter, Daniel shares Ricoh's new acquisitions with the Softcat management team and the future opportunities they will open up. And how do the folks at Softcat feel about the relationship? According to Richard Baker, Workspace Services Deputy Team Leader at Softcat, “Our partnership is not just about products; it's about driving real-world outcomes. Together, we have embarked on numerous ventures, tackling complex challenges and turning them into opportunities for growth. Whether implementing innovative solutions, optimising workflows, or scaling operations, our joint efforts have consistently delivered tangible results for our clients.” I leave Daniel to write his report and, on reflection, decide that the partnervendor relationship is never typical. Something, be it product innovation, changing markets, or new revenue streams, always keeps the partner-vendor story moving forward. If you’re interested in becoming a Ricoh partner, feel free to reach out to Daniel, and let’s see where the opportunity could lead. Julia Thomas

16 01732 759725 Daniel Hurel Westcon-Comstor Westcoast brings APC brand into technology solutions portfolio Westcoast has added Schneider Electric to its technology vendor portfolio, giving partners access to the energy management and automation leader’s flagship APC backup power, surge protection and physical infrastructure solutions, plus a complete portfolio of data centre solutions, software and services. Partners will benefit from end-to-end support, including pre-sales, flexible financing options and insights from Westcoast’s dedicated team of experts. Alex Tatham, Westcoast Executive Director, said: “Schneider will sit within our Technology Solutions business but will be available across all our sales channels – retail, MSPs, specialist and IT resellers – in the UK and Ireland.” Exertis and Object First targeting Veeam customers Exertis Cybersecurity has announced a new collaboration with Object First, developer of the Ootbi (Out-of-the-Box-Immutability) backup storage appliance. Purpose-built for Veeam and requiring no security expertise to operate, Oootbi object storage drastically reduces the risk of ransomware affecting backup data through the application of zero trust security principles. It ingests and secures Veeam data at the default block encryption size and offers instant recovery at speeds of up to 4Gbps. Mark Haddleton, EMEA Channel Sales Director at Object First, said: “Virtually every Veeam customer can benefit from secure, simple and powerful backup storage to reduce their risk of ransomware and data loss. We are delighted to partner with Exertis Cybersecurity and look forward to a strong first year of growth together.” Scality extends reach with Arrow Electronics Scality is extending the reach of its cyber resilient storage solutions through a new distribution agreement with Arrow Electronics, with a particular focus on ARTESCA immutable S3 object storage software for Veeam backups. Mike Worby, Head of Strategic Alliances for Arrow’s enterprise computing solutions business in EMEA, said: “Scality’s solutions precisely target the intersection of three pivotal customer priorities: cyber resiliency; data management; and preparing for the modern AI data centre. ARTESCA is especially appealing for customers and channel partners with its low cost of entry, easy deployment models and integration with large backup vendors like Veeam.” Ascentae introduces UK resellers to ActiveFloor solutions Ascentae, a distributor of interactive technology, is bringing dynamic interactive floor solutions from ActiveFloor to the UK. Encouraging movement and collaborative learning through immersive play, the Danish company’s range of interactive solutions includes a comprehensive library of lessons and academic content, as well as games designed by educators to boost understanding through play. In addition to its core education market, ActiveFloor solutions have applications in retail stores, museums and corporate spaces. Brian Würtz, CEO of ActiveFloor, said: “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Ascentae and to collaborate with them to unlock new opportunities for our customers to deliver unforgettable moments that leave a lasting impression.” active-floor/ Vectra AI and Westcon-Comstor extend relationship Westcon-Comstor has extended its relationship with Vectra AI to the UK & Ireland and Nordics (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway), building on an existing partnership between the two companies in Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Portugal and Benelux. The UK&I and Nordics distribution agreement creates opportunities for channel partners to generate revenue from Vectra’s AI-driven threat detection and response platform and MXDR (Managed Extended Detection and Response) service. Partners can combine Vectra’s portfolio with other elements of the Westcon portfolio, using Westcon’s 3D Lab to test multi-vendor security solutions in a dynamic virtual demo environment. Daniel Hurel, Vice President of Cyber Security & Next Gen Solutions EMEA at Westcon-Comstor, said: “We look forward to bringing Vectra’s innovative, AI-driven portfolio to new addressable markets, driving growth for our partners through our value-added services and education and enablement programmes.” Arrow awarded global exclusivity for CloudHealth distribution Broadcom has selected Arrow Electronics as its sole global go-to-market partner for the VMware financial management and operations (FinOps) solution CloudHealth. The agreement will simplify the purchase, management and support of the SaaS solution across multi-cloud environments. Eric Nowak, President of Global Enterprise Computing Solutions at Arrow, said: “Our expansive knowledge of the Broadcom and VMware technology portfolios and our deep experience in cloud delivery and management services will help ensure a fluid transition for those partners and customers leveraging the CloudHealth offering. We are excited about the opportunity to help them continue to grow their businesses and experience the added benefits of working with Arrow.” CloudHealth will be available through the ArrowSphere Cloud marketplace. Videnda to extend Nureva reach in Ireland Audio conferencing specialist Nureva is extending its reach in Ireland with the appointment of Videnda as an authorised distributor. As a provider of multivendor audiovisual and collaboration solutions, Videnda will meet the needs of larger meeting rooms, Microsoft Teams Rooms and educational spaces by integrating Nureva’s audio-conferencing product line with products from AV suppliers such as Logitech, AVer, Huddly, Lenovo and Avocor. Unity helping Datech to diversify Datech, the specialist design software business of TD SYNNEX, has taken another step in its diversification strategy by bringing digital twin solutions from Unity to businesses in North America and Europe in an extension of the companies’ existing Working together This month’s round-up of new distribution agreements WORKING TOGETHER Continued...