Cloud and data centre builds boost Computacenter product sales

growth strategy

Product sales are once again thriving, fuelled by both cloud infrastructure and datacentre modernisation projects, says Computacenter UK MD Neil Hall.

"If you go back three, four years, we were pretty concerned about where [the product market] would be given the adoption of cloud. But our datacentre business platform and hybrid IT businesses have been the biggest success in the UK last couple of years, both from a product and from a services perspective," says Hall.

Computacenter UK delivered $1.6 billion (£1.2 billion) of product in 2018 – a 9% growth rate – compared to $470 million (£373 million) of services.

"There was a desire a few years back for people to adopt a cloud-first strategy," Hall tells Channel Pro. "Then they've looked at the application, looked at the legacy environment they've got and how the application is working with that and [realised] that only some of these workloads are fit for the cloud. And they've held back some of that space and are modernising their own datacentre. We're seeing some of that coming through in 2018, and we hope through 2019."

Hall also outlined Computacenter's plans for growth, which includes expanding its Digital Power business globally, providing IT services for customers' private, multi-cloud and hybrid IT environments.

In addition, he wants to focus on growing the company's networking and security business in the UK. "If you look at our map, we have Centres of Excellence like Germany, which is tremendous for skills around networking and security. We've got to find ways to repeat that in other countries, particularly in the UK," he says.

Whether Computacenter grows that part of the business organically or through acquisition is to be seen, though. "We haven't really made decisions there," Hall says. "But we see that as building the fabric to ensure that we can help support those other propositions like Digital Power and Digital Me [the firm's digital workplace practice], so that we can give them all complete end to end infrastructure."

Hall adds that Computacenter will continue its global expansion following its entry into the US last year and its acquisition in Q4 of Misco's Netherlands business.

Regarding the potential impact of Brexit on the business, the company is in the process of scenario planning and testing with customers. Hall says the focus on the product business will likely shift from Computacenter's UK base in Hatfield to its Kerpen facility in Germany, where it has "configuration, logistics, warehousing to support the needs of all of our customers across Europe".

"I think we're quite well covered from a product perspective, but a lot of that comes from vendors and how they are going to manage the change as well," he says. "So it's not all within our control, as you can expect.

"From a services perspective, you've got to look at the data and understand where [it] resides and so forth. So, there's clearly scenario plans and tests that go on there. It would be more pleasing to understand the direction but we're not expecting that."

Christine Horton

Christine has been a tech journalist for over 20 years, 10 of which she spent exclusively covering the IT Channel. From 2006-2009 she worked as the editor of Channel Business, before moving on to ChannelPro where she was editor and, latterly, senior editor.

Since 2016, she has been a freelance writer, editor, and copywriter and continues to cover the channel in addition to broader IT themes. Additionally, she provides media training explaining what the channel is and why it’s important to businesses.