News in the Channel - issue #17


Issue #17


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Brighter outlook The UK economy is – finally – heading in the right direction, which should only add to the increasing sense of optimism among businesses in the channel currently.

Waking up to some positive economic news, as I did this morning, is still something of a novelty after recent years. Official figures show that the economy grew by 0.6% between January and March, ending the recession that we had over the second half of last year. While 0.6% isn’t much economic growth, it is at least growth. It remains to be seen whether this is sustained over the coming months, but, for now, it is good news. If the economy is starting to bounce back, then it should be good news for the channel, as more businesses might feel able to make investments in technology. It should hopefully add to a growing sense of optimism among resellers, distributors and manufacturers involved in the channel. Talking to various people in the industry in recent months, and it is becoming clear that there is much more positivity now about the prospects for the channel now and in the coming months. For example, Neil MacDonald, HP’s channel director for the UK and Ireland, believes this is an exciting time for the industry, with plenty of opportunities for sales for the channel thanks to several factors such as artificial intelligence and the upcoming Windows 11 refresh. Read his thoughts in our exclusive interview starting on p33. The changing demands of customers are also providing opportunities to the channel, such as with the rising demand for managed services. Growth in this sector is expected to be healthy for the foreseeable future as online technology becomes more complex and sophisticated – along with the threats to it – and more businesses seek to outsource this to experts to manage it. Read more on p38. The print channel is also experiencing change, and many in the sector are looking

to branch out into other services and technologies. Sharp is one manufacturer that has done it, broadening its portfolio of products in recent years, as Colin Blumenthal, managing director of Sharp IT services, explains. He adds that many print reseller businesses are also diversifying to survive. Read more on p14. Peripherals are another part of the channel where optimism is growing. With the return to the office, along with the enduring appeal of hybrid working, peripherals are crucial to employee efficiency and making a working environment as comfortable as possible – and something that help resellers to boost sales. Find out more on p26.

Dan Parton

As this range of articles shows, there is plenty of change in the channel currently, which is providing new opportunities for businesses. Allied to the improving economic conditions, it seems the optimism among increasing numbers in the channel is warranted. As ever, I hope you enjoy the issue. If there is any topic you would like to see covered in a future issue of News in the Channel – or you want to get involved in editorial or send over an op-ed or news story – please drop me a line at


Support your Channel Distributors and Resellers by using the new FREE Stock in the Channel functionality: “Authorised Distributors”. Click here to learn more

00 03


News You should know p6 HPE Introducing HPE Smart Choice p12 Look Sharp Widening the product range p14 Product Review Eaton 5PX GEN2 p20 PSA Parts Picking up the spare p24 Peripherals Crucial to efficiency p26 Stockies 2024 The categories are announced p29 Interview HP Neil MacDonald p33 Managed Service Providers Maximising opportunities p38 Network Group 30th anniversary celebrations p48 On the move People updates p50

HP Neil MacDonald – p33

Peripherals – p26

For Neil MacDonald, HP’s channel director for the UK and Ireland, this is an exciting time for the industry, with plenty of opportunities for sales for the channel thanks to several factors and he believes that HP has a range of products to suit all needs.

Peripherals have always been important for office tech, but with the return to the office, along with the enduring appeal of hybrid working, they are crucial to employee efficiency.

Product Review: Eaton 5PX GEN2 – p20

Uninterruptible power supplies are becoming increasingly important for many businesses in a wide range of sector sectors, and Eaton’s latest solution, the 5PX Gen2, is a great addition to the market.

PSA Parts – p24

With more companies concerned about sustainability, and keeping devices in the field for longer, it means demand for replacement parts is growing, and PSA Parts is well placed to help resellers to capitalise on these opportunities.

Network Group – p48

Network Group celebrates its 30th anniversary this year – and has just had a special event to commemorate the landmark. As David Tulip explains, the group has come a long way in that time and is still looking to the future, but with a focus on traditional values.



Stockies AWARDS

HPE Smart Choice – p12


Editorial Dan Parton 07941 979 845 dan@ Elliot Mulley- Goodbarne 07910 441 024 elliot@ Head of Sales Martin Jenner-Hall 07824 552 116 martin@ Publishing Director Justin Penn 07816 573 186 justin@ Written permission from the publisher is required before any part of News in the Channel can be reproduced. © 2024 In the Channel Media Ltd.

The Categories are Out! This year the Stockies are bigger than ever, with an entire week dedicated to celebrating the successes of the IT channel.

The HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program allows partners to easily sell fully configured, ready-toship HPE ProLiant products to small-to-midsize business (SMB) customers.

Managed Service Providers – p38

Managed service providers have often been the unsung heroes of the office tech sector, but now there is an increasing appreciation of the value that they provide. But how can MSPs ensure they maximise the opportunities they find?

Look Sharp – p14

Sharp has been widening its product range in the UK in recent years to include more IT and telephony technology, as well as its print products, which is helping to grow the business in the UK and Europe.

Published by: In the Channel Media Ltd Company registration number: 14363401 Registered office address 14-18 Heddon Street,

On the Move – p50

Adrian Criddle appointed as Lenovo’s UKI general manager • Epson appoints new

Mayfair, London, United Kingdom, W1B 4DA In conjunction with:

head of sales for Office Printing in the UK and Ireland • SYNAXON

appoints new account executive • Evolve IP boosts account management team



Vestel unveils dynamic new interactive screens

Vestel Visual Solutions UK has launched a new range of interactive display screens incorporating Zero Bonded Technology. The 4K UHD resolution Dynamic (DA) Series is available in 65”, 75” and 85” screen sizes and runs a customised Android 13 OS for flexibility and wide-ranging integration with third-party applications. Zero-bonded screen technology enhances clarity, improves touchscreen response and increases screen longevity to deliver tablet-like, seamless touchscreen performance. The DA series is more resistant to dust, moisture and other contaminants getting between the screen layers than air-gapped interactive displays, prolonging the working lifespan of the device. The technology removes the air gap between the LCD display panel and the touch-sensitive layer of the screen by using an optically clear bonding process. The elimination of the air gap between the two layers, as is typical in more affordable interactive displays’, significantly reduces reflections and glare, leading to better visibility in bright lighting conditions. “Our new zero-bonded Dynamic Series displays enhance touch sensitivity and accuracy, reduce parallax errors, and widen the field of view,” said Tim Mathews, senior product manager for display at Vestel UK. “They are also slimmer and lighter for easier installation, offer

a wide range of connectivity options, and offer cloud-based account and device management support. The Dynamic series offers unrivalled performance and features at the price, backed by our enviable reputation for long-term reliability and customer support.” Connectivity across the new range covers Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, 4 x HDMI ports and USB A, B and C sockets. The 20-point IR touch technology features over 1 billion pixel touch resolution with +/-1mm accuracy, and compatibility with finger, glove, or pointer interaction. Built-in 20W speakers eliminate the need for external audio in ll but the largest installation scenarios and the range comes supplied with a remote control and two magnetic pen/pointers. Vestel offers a range of built-in applications out of the box, including customisable home screen, Vdraw, Eshare, Officesuite, AquaMail, Chromium , Vmeet (powered by Zoom), File Manager, Media Player, and Cloud File Manager. The suite of software makes them fully functional for ed-tech and corporate customers immediately, and the Android 13 OS affords the flexibility for customisation and integrating bespoke applications and content. The DA Series interactive displays are available from Vestel resellers and integrators across the UK.

Tim Matthews senior product manager for display

Exertis Enterprise expands Integration Facility in Basingstoke

Exertis Enterprise has launched a major expansion of its Integration Facility in Basingstoke, enhancing technology integration, configuration, logistics and manufacturing services. This upgraded facility quadruples output capacity, and greatly increases the opportunity to add even more value to vendors and customers, such as rack scale integration/configuration and subcontract manufacturing services. This advancement allows us to better serve vendors and customers across the UK & EMEA, boosting inventory, responsiveness, and delivery speeds, with a capacity of 20,000 units (server & storage) annually. The facility is designed for the future, with extensive integration suites, testing labs and spaces for demonstrations and training, ensuring

products meet strict quality standards. A relocation within Basingstoke benefits the finance, logistics and purchasing teams with a modern workspace designed for collaboration and productivity, according to the company. “This expansion reflects our commitment to excellence and provides an environment for our team to excel,” said Tom Cox, commercial director. The facility is strategically located for optimal logistics and distribution. “This milestone represents a significant investment in our future, and a true commitment to our partners to support their growth aspirations,” Cox added. Now operational, the facility is ready to support advanced technology integration and distribution services, aiming to surpass partner and customer expectations.



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TD SYNNEX launches industry ecosystem community for AI

TD SYNNEX has launched a new Industry Ecosystem community that will bring together ISVs, innovators, partners, vendors and representatives from industries to share ideas, create partnerships and develop new solutions using artificial intelligence (AI) and large language model technologies. It is also hoped that delegates from industry sectors where there is immediate potential to benefit from the deployment of AI will participate. “Everyone is excited about AI and sees the potential to benefit,” said Neil Cornish, business manager, industry ecosystems, UK, TD SYNNEX. “But the question perhaps is how, exactly, a specific sector or organisation can harness the power of large language models to deliver those expected beneficial outcomes. That’s the fundamental question that our industry ecosystem community will seek to address. “We will bring together businesses and individuals with different skills and resources who can help each other. They may have an

interest in developing solutions, but little or no technical knowledge of AI. Or they may be experts who can build systems but need help in applying their skills to real-world use cases. Some participants may be potential investors or end-user organisations. The whole idea is to identify how and where AI can be of the most immediate benefit – and to start putting all those different skills and capabilities together to create new solutions.” The TD SYNNEX AI industry ecosystem was launched at IBM’s offices in London. It brought together a group of people who have been involved in the pre-launch discussions for the community to discuss priorities and set an agenda for the first open meeting, which is being planned for this summer. TD SYNNEX already runs successful Industry Ecosystems for healthcare, financial services, manufacturing and retail and distribution. There are also Technology Ecosystems that focus on cybersecurity and sustainability.

Neil Cornish business manager, industry ecosystems, UK

Zyxel Networks offers WiFi 7 for the price of WiFi 6

Zyxel Networks has launched a special promotion that gives customers WiFi 7 for the price of WiFi 6 as a way of highlighting the excellent performance, quality and value of the latest addition to its leading range of access points. For an unspecified period, the company’s NWA130BE WiFi 7 access point will be available at a discounted price through Zyxel partners, enabling customers to future-proof their networks for a longer period without making a higher investment. It also means MSPs and end-user customers can get experience the full benefits of Nebula, Zyxel’s cloud management platform, which provides simple remote management capabilities and built-in security, and harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to save time and maximise network performance and availability. “We are making this offer, not only to demonstrate our absolute commitment to delivering exceptional value to our customers, but also because we are totally confident in the performance, consistence and quality of our WiFi 7 solutions,” said Rachel Rothwell,

senior regional director, UK and Ireland, Zyxel Networks. “By investing in WiFi 7 today, SMBs can benefits from the highest speeds and reliable connectivity, and future-proof their networks for longer.” The offer will also help Zyxel Networks partners, she added. “Our reseller and MSP partners do an incredible job supporting our customers and we want to ensure that they can compete for and win business. They know that Zyxel Networks WiFi 7 solutions are just as good in not better than those available from manufacturers that are perceived to be ‘premium’ brands. We design our products to meet the specific needs of our customers and right now, what they are asking is the best possible technology at the best possible price, and that’s exactly what we are giving them with this offer.” In addition, she noted, with Zyxel’s Nebula cloud management service, the company’s WiFi 7 access points are easy to manage. “The NWA130BE comes with full Nebula support, so it can be set-up and managed remotely from day one, either by the customer’s own network administrator or one

Rachel Rothwell senior regional director UK and Ireland




with additional protection from malware, phishing and malicious sites. Administrators can implement security policies directly through the AP without altering existing network infrastructure. Nebula makes extensive use of AI and ML to save time for MSPs and their customers, providing advanced performance tuning and fault detection and response capabilities that enhance efficiency and make it easier and faster to prevent and to identify and resolve technical issues. The WiFi Health feature constantly monitors and auto-tunes WiFi connections to ensure optimum performance for all users. WiFi Aid examines the entire pathway of a connection across a network, making it easier for MSPs to identify and correct any issues or bottlenecks.

of our MSP partners. That gives customers great flexibility and choice, and enables them to benefit from the simple management, robust cybersecurity, and AI and ML capabilities of Nebula.” The access point also comes with Nebula Connect & Protect Plus (CNP+), a cloud- delivered security service that provides users

Arrow Electronics accelerating Copilot for Microsoft 365 through ArrowSphere Cloud

Arrow Electronics is providing Copilot for Microsoft 365 via ArrowSphere Cloud, making it readily available to channel partners in EMEA. It is also delivering a dedicated programme of enablement designed to help resellers accelerate the opportunity with Copilot. Launched in Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program in January, Copilot for Microsoft 365 uses the power of generative AI and natural language processing to boost user productivity and creativity. As a Microsoft distributor in more than 20 European countries, Arrow has more than 300 Copilot-certified specialists working locally to support channel partners with their Copilot implementations. Each one is fully licenced for Copilot for Microsoft 365 to ensure they have first-hand experience of the impact it can make and to help resellers position Copilot to customers so they can grow their business. Understanding the importance of data security and compliance, these specialists are working with customers to identify the prerequisites for a smooth and secure Copilot introduction, giving them the opportunity to benefit from its capabilities without compromising data integrity. “As Copilot for Microsoft 365 users ourselves, we know the impact it can make,” said Brendan Murphy, global director of public cloud at Arrow. “We use our hands-on experience to help our resellers build their

skills and unlock the potential of the platform. We invested significant time pre-launch, working with Microsoft to make sure we were ready to go on day one.

Our resellers didn’t waste any time, transacting within the first hour.” David Smith, vice president of worldwide

Arrow Sphere Cloud

channel sales at Microsoft, added: “Since the launch of Copilot for Microsoft 365, Arrow has implemented more than 9,000 licenses, coaching and

guiding resellers on how to drive adoption and enhance productivity, creativity and collaboration for end customers. With Copilot for Microsoft 365, we can transform the channel landscape, supporting customers at various stages of tech maturity and unleashing their potential with AI across apps, data and AI models. Most importantly, with Arrow’s innovative and Copilot-dedicated value-added services we can help maximise the channel opportunity to sell AI value to customers.” Copilot for Microsoft 365 can be sourced and activated through ArrowSphere Cloud, Arrow's cloud delivery and management platform. Channel partners can also use the new security dashboard to access an aggregated view of their customers’ security posture, quickly identifying any threats.

Brendon Murphy global director of public cloud



Northamber acquires Tempura Communications

Northamber plc has acquired Tempura Communications Ltd, a specialist provider of unified communications and collaboration solutions. This strategic move further strengthens Northamber’s position in the technology solutions market and enhances its portfolio of offerings to customers in the UK and Europe. Founded in 1980, Northamber has a long- standing reputation for delivering innovative AV & IT solutions and exceptional service to businesses across the UK. The acquisition of Tempura marks a significant milestone in Northamber’s growth strategy, enabling the company to provide a broader range of communication solutions to its customers in the UK and Europe. “We are delighted to welcome Mathew and the Tempura team into the Northamber group,” said Alex Phillips, chairman of Northamber. “Over the last 20 years they have established a very strong reputation for consistently delivering high-quality services and solutions, greatly valued by customers. This acquisition aligns perfectly with our commitment to offering comprehensive technology solutions to our customers. Tempura brings a wealth of expertise in unified communications and collaboration, which will complement our existing offerings and enhance the value we

deliver to our customers.” Tempura, established in 2002, has built a strong reputation for delivering tailored communication solutions to businesses of all sizes. With a focus on innovation and customer satisfaction, Tempura has become a trusted partner for organisations seeking to optimise their communication infrastructure. “We see a great many synergies with Northamber, including its culture, products and services and I am pleased to be joining the senior management team of a founder friendly business and to become a shareholder in the company,” said Mathew Light, managing director of Tempura Communications. “Joining forces with Northamber presents an exciting opportunity for Tempura and our customers. Together, we will be able to leverage Northamber’s extensive experience, resources and industry-leading expertise to accelerate our growth and better serve the evolving needs of businesses.” The acquisition of Tempura underscores Northamber’s commitment to driving innovation and providing best-in-class solutions to its customers. As the company continues to expand its presence in the technology solutions market, Northamber remains dedicated to delivering exceptional value and service to its stakeholders.

Alex Phillips chairman

Total distribution™

Smarttech247 and SentinelOne join forces

Cybersecurity provider Smarttech247 has announced a strategic collaboration with AI-powered security provider SentinelOne aimed at delivering managed detection and response (MDR) services to small- and medium-sized businesses. As part of the collaboration, Smarttech247 will integrate its VisionX platform with the SentinelOne Singularity Platform to provide mid- market customers in Europe and the US with the most advanced threat detection, analysis, and response capabilities available in the market. “By combining Smarttech247’s expertise in managed security services with SentinelOne’s innovative and market-leading AI-powered technology, we are revolutionising how organisations defend against cyber threats,” said Raluca Saceanu, CEO of Smarttech247. “Our joint solution empowers security teams with the tools and intelligence needed to proactively identify and mitigate threats with

machine speed, ultimately strengthening their overall security posture.” SentinelOne’s Purple AI, a transformative AI security analyst designed to unlock the potential of security teams by simplifying and accelerating threat hunting, investigations and response, will play a pivotal role in enhancing Smarttech 247’s MDR offering. Together, Smarttech247 and SentinelOne can empower organisations to stay one step ahead of cyber adversaries by delivering comprehensive, AI-driven managed detection and response solutions that protect the entire enterprise. “Threat actors do not discriminate,” said Brian Lanigan, senior vice president, Global Partner Ecosystem, SentinelOne. “Organisations of all sizes need innovative, intelligent solutions that allow them to detect, respond to and prevent attacks before they happen, and together with Smarttech247, we can deliver them.”

Raluca Saceanu CEO

10 31062



Introducing HPE Smart Choice The HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program allows partners to easily sell fully configured, ready-to- ship HPE ProLiant products to small-to-midsize business (SMB) customers.

What is the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program?

What are the key benefits of the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program? There are a number of benefits, which are underpinned by the increased speed of quote and expedited shipping. The key benefits include: l Generate a quote in minutes One of the key benefits of the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program is the ability to generate quotes in minutes. l Sell more, faster Rapid quoting capability empowers businesses to respond quickly to customer

The HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program represents a paradigm shift in the way businesses procure and deploy server solutions. Designed to streamline the entire purchasing process, this innovative program offers fully configured servers that can be quoted in mere minutes, eliminating the need for laborious price comparisons and deal registrations. We've listened to our partner community and have created 12 popular configurations based on the workload and applications theirs customers are demanding. Onsite integration is made effortless with ready-to-deploy models, further reducing deployment time and costs. This end-to-end simplification not only saves businesses time but also allows them to save money at every step of the purchasing process. By eliminating unnecessary complexity and delays, the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program enables businesses to process deals faster and recognise revenue sooner.

Matt Valentine, Vice President of Compute and Digital Sales, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

inquiries and secure sales faster. l Get the best price the first time

With the best price available from the outset, businesses can avoid the need for lengthy negotiations and price comparisons, ultimately selling more, faster. l Get fast, predictable shipping In today’s fast-paced business environment, speed is of the essence. The HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program addresses this need by offering fast, predictable shipping for all orders.

We’ve listened

to our partner community and have created 12 popular configurations based on the workload and applications their customers are demanding.



l Give sellers more time to sell Businesses can rely on expedited delivery times, ensuring that their server solutions are deployed swiftly and efficiently. This not only enhances customer satisfaction but also gives sellers more time to focus on selling, rather than getting bogged down in administrative tasks. Why was this offer developed? The development of the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program was driven by the need to address challenges faced by distribution and channel partners. In an increasingly competitive landscape, partners are under pressure to deliver high-demand compute products and solutions quickly, reliably, and at a competitive price. Supply chain disruptions stemming from the pandemic have only exacerbated these challenges, eroding trust in the vendors’ ability to deliver products as promised. Complex pricing systems have further compounded the issue, making it difficult for partners to provide quick, competitive quotes to drive deal velocity and sales efficiency. The reliance on high-touch pricing mechanisms, such as deal registration, has become unsustainable, leading to inefficiencies and delays in the sales cycle. The HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program aims to alleviate these challenges by offering a simplified, efficient, and fast purchasing experience. By providing pre-configured servers that can be quoted and ordered in minutes, HPE empowers partners to respond rapidly to customer needs while ensuring competitive pricing. This not only enhances the partner and customer experience but also gives HPE a competitive edge in the market. How does the lead time of the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program compare with CTO or BTO offerings? Compared to configure-to-order (CTO) or build-to-order (BTO) offerings, the lead time of the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program

is significantly shorter. While CTO and BTO options may offer greater customisation, they typically involve longer lead times due to the complexity of configuration and assembly processes. In contrast, the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program prioritises popular configurations to ensure fast delivery and maintain optimal inventory levels. In summary, the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program represents a game- changing approach to server procurement. By simplifying the quoting, ordering, and shipping process, HPE enables businesses to save time, reduce costs, and accelerate revenue recognition. With its focus on speed, efficiency, and customer satisfaction, this innovative program sets a new standard for purchasing server solutions in today’s digital landscape. How can a partner take advantage of the HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program? l  Lead with HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program SKUs for transactional opportunities. l  Contact your preferred distributor to get a quote in minutes. l  Seal the deal and claim points on HPE Engage & Grow l Ship the server to your customer next day l  Leverage these key resources: – HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program Partner Guide – HPE Smart Choice Purchase Program Partner FAQ

To ensure all our partners are successful with HPE Smart Choice, we developed a wide breadth of assets to support them, from simple configuration sheets to marketing programs, so that our diverse stakeholders can truly advance their business, in a sustainable way. “

The trusted distributors for HPE Smart Choice:



Look sharp Sharp has been widening its product range in the UK in recent years to include more IT and telephony technology, as well as its print products, which is helping to grow the business in the UK and Europe.

The UK market has not been easy over the past few years – the effects of COVID, supply chain problems, rising costs and inflation to name just a few of the problems businesses have had to weather. It has meant many businesses have had to adapt, and Sharp has been doing that in recent years by widening its product and service offering and now the business is growing strongly in the UK and Europe, despite challenging market conditions, according to Colin Blumenthal, managing director of Sharp IT services. “Sharp is on a journey of transforming into a technology business across Europe,” he says. “Sharp is widely known in the business- to-business community for managed print and print services. But while print is growing, IT services is a market that can deliver accelerated growth so there is a strategy to cross-sell IT services into Sharp’s client base across Europe and in UK. “Some of the growth within IT services across Europe is delivered from that customer base of loyal SMB print-based clients who are now acquiring IT services from Sharp too.”

Making the right choices But while Sharp has changed and expanded its product range, other things have remained constant – the culture to help clients make the right decisions when it comes to technology. “That’s what we are here to do,” says Colin. “And that has never changed. Of course, the technology has very much changed over the years, but we’ve always been able to stay ahead; we don’t use technology, we are leading it. “We’ve always been at the leading edge and adapted our knowledge and our expertise to deliver technologies and services that our clients and prospects are going to find valuable and that continues today and will do so in the future. “Part of the key technology shift has been the continued journey to cloud. And we are a long-established Microsoft partner with four competencies in the new partner programme. We’re well placed to offer the right advice to our clients and prospective clients on how they should navigate their journey to the cloud.” Colin adds that the tough economic picture in the UK means that big capital projects need a lot of justification. “But cloud presents investment opportunities for businesses where large amounts of capital expenditure aren’t needed for a lot of organisations,” he says. “A lot of our project-related work is helping clients migrate to a cloud hybrid working environment, which cuts down on the capital expenditure that’s needed.” Colin adds that there are some areas seeing more capital expenditure, such as business applications. “We deliver Microsoft Dynamics and that’s experienced good growth in the last year because businesses are valuing processes and how automating workflows can help improve their businesses,” he says. “But what’s equally important is management information, business intelligence and utilising the Microsoft Power platform to help deliver accurate, up to date, insightful information. That’s where we’re seeing businesses invest

Colin Blumenthal managing director, Sharp IT Services



larger amounts of capital expenditure rather than rebuilding large IT infrastructures.” Another growth area is hybrid working. “Sharp can advise clients on how to navigate successfully and securely the journey to hybrid working,” says Colin. “It was obviously forced upon businesses at the start of the pandemic, but since then a lot of businesses have found that it works for their business and employees, so they’re maintaining some level of hybrid working. That’s caused a shift in how they use technology and how that technology needs to be secured, and this is a critical conversation that we are having with our clients on an ongoing basis.” Security As Colin says, security for all business technology – whether in the office or elsewhere – is imperative as more devices become networked and therefore potential entry points for a cyberattack. “Again, we ensure we remain abreast of those technologies and Sharp is delivering appropriate security solutions to our clients that deliver what they need, at an affordable cost,” he says. “But we still find that security is often overlooked. Sharp surveyed 5,770 businesses across Europe in 2023 – including about 550 businesses in the UK – and 34% felt that their users need better training and are a weak point potentially in any security solution that’s put in place. “Sharp is launching cybersecurity awareness training throughout Europe to ensure that users are trained on an ongoing basis through simulated phishing attacks and other security topics like not downloading files, a strong password policy, etc. Security can be overlooked – businesses can buy loads of technology but forget about the users who can be the weak point if they’re not trained in security protection. “Security has been an ongoing focus for Sharp and any good success MSP should be focusing on security for their clients too. The phrase that I use is we want our clients to work smarter but safer through better use of technology. There are two angles there: thinking about how technology can improve our clients’ business, growth and overall profitability, but also ensuring that within those parameters they’re working safely. That means having the right protection tools, but also ensuring that the users are kept fully

trained on an ongoing basis. It isn’t just doing the training once a year, it’s got to be ongoing because if you don’t continue to reinforce training, it can fall by the wayside.” Developing AI capability Part of the security conversation now is the role of artificial intelligence (AI), Colin adds. “There are the bad threat actors out there who now have AI tools and can become even cleverer than they already are,” he says. “So therefore, cybersecurity protection, the tools we use, and the training need to be stepped up to reflect this.” But there are positive uses for AI, and Sharp, with its emphasis on staying at the cutting edge of technology, is developing its AI capability and services. “Internally, we’re testing how AI can make Sharp more efficient and even more professional in the services we’re delivering to our clients,” Colin explains. “AI is increasing our efficiency. For example, we are finding, especially in our meetings and email management, we’re saving people half an hour to an hour a day, which is a considerable saving. “We’ve also got 10 people focused on Microsoft Copilot within our business – we call them Copilot champions – where we are testing it to see the efficiency gains it’s giving us and so we can become knowledges expert and then deliver consultancy and advice to our clients on it.”

Sharp surveyed 5,770 businesses across Europe in 2023 – including about 550 businesses in the UK – and 34% felt that their users need better training and are a weak point potentially in any security solution that's put in place. “





Constant evolution While Sharp is constantly evolving, so does Colin. He has had a long career in the sector, but has constantly adapted to the changing nature of IT. Back in 1992, he co-founded IT business Complete IT, which he ran until July 2019, when it was sold to Sharp in the UK. As part of the deal, he joined Sharp too. Since March 2021, in addition to being managing director of Sharp IT Services UK, he has also been Sharp’s vice president of IT Services for Europe, responsible for the expansion of IT services throughout Europe for Sharp. Change is something he is used to – and that he relishes, and always seeks to be at the cutting edge of technology, just as Sharp does. Print As mentioned, Sharp is expanding its services to include more IT services, and many print vendors are doing similar throughout Europe, Colin says. This is being done in part in the UK to offset the largely flat print market – although it varies in other countries, Colin notes. “But, of course, each print vendor is looking for increased market share to boost their revenues in print too,” he adds. “Some sectors still have a large demand for print, such as education, which is why in the UK, Sharp has a strong presence in the education market. “By expanding their service, they can maximise their value and maximise

Colin adds that it is crucial that Sharp makes its partners and clients aware that they need to be ready for AI. “They must be confident that their data is structured in the right way internally, that if they do deploy AI, it’s not going to uncover any information that shouldn’t be uncovered by people within your organisation,” he says. “Additionally, AI policies need to be created. The use of AI needs to be mandated within an organisation properly, so there’s lots of areas that we can add value to our clients and our prospects around AI.” Colin adds that demand for AI is currently more from larger businesses. “SMBs are not necessarily going to be the early adopters of it, a lot are waiting and watching to see its impact. But we do have clients that have purchased Copilot and are using it and coming to us for advice. We see AI as a snowball that will gain momentum quite quickly. We need to be ready, and have the skills in place to offer the right advice to our clients so they can maximise Copilot and other AI tools out there. But with Copilot, being a Microsoft partner, we are ready to help our clients to get maximum value from it. As I mentioned, its about helping them to work smarter, that’s what it’s about. “It’s about the mundane stuff that can potentially be done by AI – such as transcriptions or notes from meetings – allowing the team to focus on the higher value add tasks and deliver to their clients.”

We see AI as a snowball that will gain momentum quite quickly. We need to be ready, and have the skills in place to offer the right advice to our clients so they can maximise Copilot and other AI tools out there. “



their reputation as well and build on the relationships they’ve built up through the provision of print services to now enter the world of IT services. That is the strategy that Sharp have in the UK and in Europe.” Consolidating partners Another consideration for expanding into IT services is that some customers are looking to consolidate the number of partners they work with. “Partly because it can be more cost-effective but also it makes it easier if the customer has an issue with technology – there is one number to ring, rather than having to define if it is a print or IT or security problem before ringing the appropriate person and getting the right service,” Colin notes. “They want one person to take responsibility for the relationship and one invoice, rather than having multiple invoices from multiple vendors. There’s lots of improvements in efficiencies you can have by cutting down your suppliers’ partners. We are hearing from SMBs that this is something they want, and it is something we’re working towards delivering. “We made good progress on new business; we have new business teams who sell the portfolio services that Sharp in the UK can deliver. We’ve already started joining together functions within the businesses in the UK to bring together that one supplier, one partner approach that we believe SMBs and other businesses are looking for.” Telephony spike Another developing area of products and services for Sharp as part of its drive to be an IT technology partner for its clients is telephony VoIP services. “With the switch off at the end of 2025 of the PSTN ISDN network, that will generate a large amount of potentially short-term demand for a shift to a voice environments for our clients,” says Colin. “We have several offerings, which means we can be consultative in our approach and how we offer voice services to our clients. But that applies to all our services because we’ve got the breadth and depth of services and solutions that means we don’t just turn up with one solution, we turn up with the potential to deliver two or three. We can consult with our clients and propose the right service and the right solution for our client and/or prospect.” Service is key But while Sharp is a large business and has the resources and expertise to back it up, it

doesn’t come at the expense of customer services and relationships, Colin notes. “We want to build long-term relationships with our clients and bring a local feel to those relationships. We have several offices throughout the UK so that we can be the local partner for our clients but backed by a greater breadth and depth of skills and knowledge and expertise and availability. “If you provide technology in addition to print, by the nature of that increase in services, you will have a closer relationship with your clients and your prospects. And those businesses, especially SMBs, want to see those partners and not just deal with them online and remotely. They want to feel that they’re engaged within their business and understand their business. To achieve that, you need to be on site in front of your clients and your prospects on a regular basis. One of the key services that we deliver is an IT roadmap for our clients, where we set out how their technology should develop in the coming year. They have a plan and give us a budget to deliver what they have agreed is the right technology roadmap for their business in the coming year.” Future For the future, Colin is optimistic, as Sharp continues its evolution in the UK and Europe. “We are looking to grow IT services as an overall percentage of Sharp’s business within the UK,” says Colin. “And that’s through growing our organic offerings of services, but also as an acquisition strategy as well in major economic territories within Europe also, so it builds on two strands.”

We have several offices

throughout the UK so that we can be the local partner for our clients but backed by a greater breadth and depth of skills and knowledge and expertise and availability.



I n a kingdom not too far away, there lived a clever and resourceful young lady. She’d caught the attention of the King who wanted her for his Queen. Part of her matrimonial challenge once she became queen was to display resourcefulness and on her wedding night, she was tasked with 3 nights to transform a pile of straw into digital gold, to make more money for the Kingdom. Faced with such a task, her sobs caught the attention of a mysterious cybercriminal named Rumpelstiltskin. R umpelstiltskin, with his cunning ways, approached the queen and offered

his assistance in spinning digital gold, in the form of Cryptocurrency. Intrigued by the possibilities, the queen accepted his help, unaware of the dark contract she was entering. Rumpelstiltskin, true to his promise, helped her accumulate vast wealth overnight. A s their partnership continued, Rumpelstiltskin revealed his true intentions. He demanded a steep price—a guessing game. If the queen couldn’t decipher his name, he would not only keep the wealth accumulated, he would also take possession of something far more precious. In this digital kingdom, the queen’s most cherished possession was the kingdom’s data. R umpelstiltskin intended to encrypt this data, challenging the queen to guess his name to unlock possession of the



precious data. The queen, however, was smart. She didn’t let on that she had a secret weapon, a Fortinet solution to prevent this encryption. A s the third night came to a close, and Rumpelstiltskin – convinced of victory, danced in delight on the spot repeating his challenge to successfully guess his name. The queen, who until now had played along, used Fortinet user identification to decipher the complex code that concealed Rumpelstiltskin’s identity. In a dramatic turn of events, the queen, armed with Fortinet’s insights, successfully announced Rumpelstiltskin’s name, defeating the villain, unlocking the encryption and saving her precious data. D efeated by the queen’s cleverness and Fortinet’s expertise, Rumpelstiltskin

vanished into the shadows of the dark web. The queen and her digital kingdom, fortified by the protection of Fortinet, lived happily ever after. T he moral of the story: In the digital realm, where cyberthreats may appear as allies, it is crucial to have a vigilant defender like Fortinet. With the right cybersecurity ally, one can decipher the codes, guess the names of digital adversaries, and safeguard the most precious assets from the threats that lurk in the kingdom of data.

Become a Fortinet partner to discover how to provide your customers with comprehensive cybersecurity solutions to protect their networks, applications, and data from evolving threats.



Keeping the power on

Uninterruptible power supplies are becoming increasingly important for many businesses in a wide range of sectors, and Eaton’s latest solution, the 5PX Gen2, is a great addition to the market.

With ever-more mission critical functions for businesses in many sectors being carried out online or in the cloud, reliable power supplies become ever more of an imperative. The costs of a power outage, even if it is just for a short period of time, can be huge. Eaton reckon that for a small- to medium- sized business, the average cost of an hour of downtime is €930 – something that can be ill-afforded. If the power outage is prolonged, it can go on to adversely affect sales and the business’ reputation for much longer than the time the power is out. So uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) are, understandably, increasing in popularity. One of the newer entrants to the market is Eaton’ 5PX Gen2 UPS. The device provides enterprise networks and edge IT equipment with line-interactive power protection maximising IT space and service continuity. Eaton 5PX Gen 2 offers powerful tools to remotely monitor, integrate with IT architecture and remotely deploy/maintain large installed base of UPSs. The Eaton 5PX Gen2 has a range of features, such as increased standard runtime by at least 25% on 1.5 and 2 kVA models compared to the original 5PX UPS. It also boasts enhanced surge protection designed to keep branch offices and IT closets equipment safe. The device also has enhanced power density thanks to power factor 1 (W=VA) performance, providing 11% more power in the same rack space as the previous iteration. When operating in battery mode the 5PX provides a high-quality output signal for any

What’s in the box l Network

Management Card

l Input cable l Rack-mounting kit l Supports for tower mounting l Cable locking system

l USB cable l Serial cable l IEC-IEC cables

Innovative graphical LCD display

l Quickstart guide l Safety instructions l BS input cord

sensitive equipment connected, such as active PFC (power factor corrected) servers. Each 5PX Gen2 battery configuration provides the best size/runtime ratio. Sustainability In addition, for those looking towards sustainability, the 5PX Gen2 is Energy Star 2.0 certified, as well as offering best-in-class efficiency performance to reduce energy consumption and cooling costs. It is also easy to monitor its energy usage. The 5PX Gen2 meters energy consumption right down to the managed outlet groups and kWh values can be monitored using the LCD or Eaton’s Intelligent Power Software, which seamlessly integrates with leading virtualisation environments and cloud orchestration tools.

Prioritise connected devices

Energy Star 2.0 certified


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