IT distributor Mustek is helping its partners make the transition from being pure hardware suppliers by offering them a full range of software products and cloud services that propel them into the modern digital world.
As one of the South Africa’s longest-serving distributors, Mustek is a stalwart in the hardware game – including the ever-popular homegrown Mecer personal computers.
Launched two years ago, CloudShop is Mustek’s software and cloud brand, committed to making cloud services available to partners throughout South Africa.
“We are truly ecstatic to launch these new services to our partners,” says JP Gough, executive: cloud and enterprise at Mustek, on the thinking behind the establishment of the Mustek Cloud business unit.
“Mustek has always been a customer-led organisation, and the diversification of our services offering to our more than 12 000-strong partner base emanated from strong customer relationships and organic growth into new market segments.
“Our focus remains strongly grounded in our core principles and our cloud and software portfolio will always be focussed on complementing the core Mustek hardware portfolios spanning from edge to infrastructure.”
Tina Tseng, the CloudShop business unit operations manager, explains that Mustek is not deviating from its core business with these new offerings. “We are a distributor, and we have expanded into the cloud, adding cloud services to our distribution offerings.”
CloudShop is an operational division within Mustek, and has developed operations and processes that make the distribution of cloud services as simple as possible for the reseller partner.
“We are still working with the same customers we have always dealt with, but we are focusing on enablement. We have seen a gap in the market and are filling it, helping partners expand into new segments to grow their customer base, revenue and expertise levels.”
The success of the model can be seen in the significant growth the CloudShop has enjoyed since it opened its doors. “We have continuously seen double-digit growth across the portfolio,” Tseng says.
The CloudShop offerings
By leveraging Mustek’s holistic technology services and solutions, reseller partners can complement their existing catalogues and increase customer loyalty.
The Microsoft offerings in Mustek’s cloud services portfolio include Microsoft Azure, as well as the full suite of Microsoft application services, according to Noluthando Shabalala, product manager: software in the Mustek CloudShop
The CloudShop services are distributed across four verticals: productivity and collaboration; security and compliance; cloud infrastructure; and training and enablement.
In productivity and collaboration, offerings include Mobile Device Management, Intelligent document management solutions, Video Collaboration and Office productivity as well as additional services from Microsoft, SmartImage and Samsung Knox
A number of services from vendors including Microsoft, BlackFog, Acronis, Samsung, NetTrace and Bitdefender are available under the security and compliance umbrella. These services include Asset Management; Identity Management;, Mobile Device Management , Enterprise Mobility; and Managed Detect and Response.
Cloud infrastructure, including Virtual Storage, Compute, and Networking infrastructure services, is based on Microsoft Azure, with some infrastructure services specific to security available from Acronis.
CloudShop partners with Mecer Inter-Ed to provide training and enablement to software and cloud partners.
The Microsoft value-add
Mustek distributes the full Microsoft software portfolio, both packaged and cloud-based services.
Shabalala says this means it can provide partners with the solution that best suits their needs and their customers’ preferences.
“We think eventually everyone will transition to cloud services, but in the meantime there are resellers that are used to selling packaged software, and customers that want it that way,” she explains.
“It’s definitely easier to manage cloud-based subscriptions now, so we are seeing a steady shift away from packaged solutions into the cloud. Indeed, we are handling more cloud subscriptions for Microsoft now than packaged software sales.”
Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform that offers access, management, and the development of applications and services through global data centres. It also provides a range of capabilities, including software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
Microsoft 365 is the world’s most popular family of productivity software, collaboration and cloud-based services. It includes online services such as Outlook.com, OneDrive, Microsoft Teams, programs formerly marketed under the name Microsoft Office (including applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook on Microsoft Windows, macOS, mobile devices, and on the web), enterprise products and services associated with these products such as Exchange Server, SharePoint, and Yammer.
As a trusted partner, Mustek adds its own value to the Microsoft cloud offerings.
“We take our partners through the process of selling and maintaining cloud subscriptions, and hold their hands throughout,” Shabalala says. “In addition, we have the enablement platform that helps them to track, renew and upgrade their customers with ease.”
Security is one of the biggest software portfolios at Mustek, demonstrating the need for customers to keep their systems secure and resilient.
The portfolio is underpinned by Microsoft’s security offerings, with a number of other solutions also available.
, product manager: cybersecurity at Mustek CloudShop, explains that security is seldom a simple transactional decision for partners. “We find there is a lot of consultation involved as we help our partners to understand their clients’ requirements, and to craft the best solution for them.
“Many security solutions available in the market look the same, but we help partners to navigate the nuances, and enable them to give their customers the right solution.”
This is particularly relevant for reseller partners that are new to the cloud environment, Miller adds.
Mecer Inter-Ed (MIE) has aligned to industry-recognised vendors who trends in the industry by offering skills and certifications that are required within the global and local market.
MIE promotes key areas of technology training by providing access to subject matter experts who deliver authorised and industry-leading instruction through multiple delivery formats.
Mustek CloudShop has built up an impressive team to drive the software and cloud message, and to enable reseller partners. There are currently 15 people in the CloudShop team – and it’s still growing.
“It is a big team because we are building a complete ecosystem to support the cloud services, and enable our partners to move into this environment,” says Tseng.
The CloudShop team also works closely with other internal teams within Mustek to ensure that partners get the best possible service regardless of what products or services they are working with.
In addition, the cloud messaging is being carried to Mustek’s partner base, along with a growth and enablement path they can follow to grow up the value chain.
“Mustek carries 40 or 50 hardware brands,” Tseng points out. “Software is a different language, so it’s a challenging journey to help these partners add software and cloud services.”
Working with CloudShop
Mustek’s CloudShop works with partners at any phase of their digital journey.
Businesses that currently partner with Mustek and recognise the full range of solutions on offer can benefit from dealing with a single distributor for hardware, software and cloud-related solutions.
Resellers that are aware of cloud and software solutions but didn’t realise Mustek could provide them will benefit from broadening their relationship with the distributor.
Businesses that recognise the emerging challenges such as cybersecurity risks but aren’t sure how to address them receive education on the various differently cloud and software solutions available.
Even reseller partners that currently don’t know how they could play in the software and cloud environment can benefit from working with Mustek, which can show them how to solve challenges and open up new market opportunities.
CloudShop runs a series of roadshows, launches and regional training programmes to spread the word, and drive marketing campaigns to increase awareness of the breadth of software and solution offering available.
Resellers can engage with CloudShop via a number of touch points. All new leads are entered into the Mustek CRM system, then a software and cloud salesperson follows up to help the reseller understand what services are available and how they are offered.
Partners of all sizes will benefit from CloudShop, from small and medium enterprise (SMEs) to managed service providers (MSPs).
Once they sign up with CloudShop, partners have access to the back-end platform that allows them to sell, monitor and manage subscriptions for their customers.
How to get involved
Resellers can get in touch with the Mustek CloudShop team via email (email@example.com).
Once registered, there is a onboarding process, which CloudShop will walk partners through.
Microsoft also has its own onboarding process, and the team at CloudShop is willing to help prospective software and cloud resellers to complete it.
“Once they have completed the onboarding process, Microsoft vets the partners, and thereafter they are ready to buy,” Shabalala says.
“As soon as that’s done, we create an account for the reseller in CloudShop, and they can start transacting.”
For existing Mustek partners, the CloudShop marketplace opens up new opportunities to start offering new cloud-based value-adds – although they may need to sign a new reseller contact since some terms and conditions could have changed since they originally signed up.
Once they are up and running, the CloudShop platform also offers a variety of statistics and analytics to help partners to maximise their engagement and services.
“At the end of the day, Mustek empowers partner businesses to achieve their unique business goals by providing them with a one-stop suite of cloud solutions well matched to their every possible business need,” says Tseng.