Avnet Drives the Channel Into the IoT Market
For resellers and other providers looking to start an internet of things practice, or even for those that already have some expertise, Avnet may have a solution to jumpstart your growth. The global tech distributor recently inked an agreement with relayr, which provides a cloud-based enterprise middleware platform, to deliver IoT solutions in the United States and Canada.
The relayr relationship is designed to turn Avnet's partners into IoT developers who create solutions that can be easily integrated into their customers' existing technologies. In addition to relayr's enterprise middleware platform and tools, partners also get an entrée into IoT development with starter kits (from prototype to roll-out) and end-to-end support from Avnet and relayr. The new offering falls under Avnet's strategy to help partners grow through specialization.
More devices are becoming intelligent and interconnected and that is driving a lot of demand to monetize data that is coming from every device to achieve business outcomes, said Colin Blair, vice president of data analytics and IOT solutions, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas. "With the relayr partnership, we have an IoT platform that can ingest, analyze and orchestrate that data, and put it all into a platform management solution where that data can be parked in a data lake or migrated over to a different data center application or analytics tool," he added.
One of the key things about the enterprise middleware platform is that it allows communications from any service, software, platform and sensor. The solution delivers a full-service, end-to-end stack with an open API, streaming services and open-source libraries for both hardware and software.
With the help of consulting services from Avnet or relayr, partners will be able to create IoT solutions for customers that range from experimentation kits to industrial hardware. A lot of business drivers will focus on compliance, safety and predictive failure analysis. Some of the examples cited include simple use cases such as tracking wheelchairs in a hospital or monitoring the weight of hand sanitizer dispensers.
Any kind of asset management use case is a "no-brainer," said Blair. "But the number of use cases—and opportunities—are limitless, and that's why there is this explosion in demand and a need for the innovation."
Avnet offers relayr's open-source software development kits and industrial-grade sensor kits for customer prototyping. One of the first kits available through Avnet is relayr's Cisco IoT starter kit, which is designed to provide partners with a proof of concept to show customers the benefits of IoT fog software for industrial deployments.
"Starter kits are like innovation as a service," said Blair. "They provide an example for proof of technology and even proof of concept."
Consultative Services Are Key Component
A key component of the offering includes consultative services from Avnet and relayr. Initially, relayr will provide what Avnet calls a "5-4-3 accelerate" service: five days of ideation to help clients understand what they could do, four weeks of prototyping and design, and three months of implementation.
Blair believes that, over time, the reseller community will deliver these innovations as a service engagement. "This is how we will meet the demand being generated around the IoT."
"Consultative services unwind the whole opportunity," said Blair. "Many clients have a lot of difficulty from the creative aspect in terms of what is possible: 'What sensors do I have, what data is out there, how can I extract that data, how can I send it to the cloud and manage and analyze it.' That's what our partnership enables our ecosystem to do."
Avnet's partners include resellers, service providers, regional systems integrators and value-added resellers, as well as its upstream suppliers—such as Cisco, Dell and HPE—which manufacture the gateways.
"There is a large affinity for partnerships in the field with suppliers that are selling their IoT solutions but need the reach and capabilities of the channel," said Blair. "And that channel needs the capabilities of a middleware IoT platform with a distributor that knows the data center and edge devices. This is totally unique in the marketplace."
No one can go it alone on an IoT solution, Blair pointed out. In the Avnet ecosystem, the role a partner plays will vary, but it will take several partners to deliver an IoT solution, expanding opportunities across channel partners from resellers to analytics specialists.