Road to APC: rhipe embraces the Spotify and Netflix models to deliver cloud consumption

The calibre of companies which have been named as finalists in the Microsoft Australia Partner Awards (MAPA) has never been higher. These are businesses that are deeply engaged in the digital transformation initiatives of their customers, and are contributing more broadly to the innovation fabric of Australia.

In this story we meet rhipe, which is a finalist in multiple categories of MAPA 2016 recognising Excellence in Licensing, Excellence in Marketing, and Excellence in Wholesale Distribution.

What Netflix has done for movies, and Spotify has done for music, rhipe wants to do for computing.

Cloud computing is prompting a radical rethink of the way businesses consume resources – offering flexibility, choice and a completely different payment model through the delivery of platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service and software-as-a-service.

While cloud is impacting how corporates, businesses and governments tackle computing, it’s having a similarly profound effect across the channel community.

Cloud channel company rhipe’s entire focus is to support its partners and ultimately their customers make a fuss-free transition to cloud computing. At rhipe’s core – and its 12-year history - is a subscription platform; channel partners download and consume software from that platform, and receive a rhipe bill at the end of each month.

The company has also developed an impressive technical ability and advises partners on how to deploy cloud solutions, how to license software in a virtualised machine environment, and how to ensure licence compliance.

rhipe however goes the extra mile for its channel partners – and offers a range of new subscription services such as consulting-as-a-service, marketing-as-a-service, contracts-as-a-service, support-as-a-service – in fact, everything possible to streamline the move to the cloud.

CEO Dominic O’Hanlon explains; “Marketing, sales enablement, training as a service – anything you can think a partner might need to do to manage the CSP (cloud solutions provider) business we can do as a service – including invoicing-as-a-service.”

The end user of the services only ever sees the channel partner as rhipe white labels all of its services – the invoice has the partner’s logo, the support centre answers the phone as the partner. According to O’Hanlon this ensures that end customers receive the services they expect but at the same time frees the channel partner to focus on its area of expertise.

“If someone said to me what is your number one differentiator – the one thing getting us a lot of traction is marketing-as-a-service. Most distributors: you assume that you just come to them to buy stuff. What we do is help you find leads, and we help enable your digital transformation and help you enable your customers’ digital transformation.”

Offering specialist cloud-distribution services benefits both channel partners and the ultimate Microsoft user adds O’Hanlon; “If you’re a consumer, and you need one copy of Office 365 you possibly will go and buy that from the Microsoft store and you pay retail price. If you are a business you don’t want to pay retail, and you want someone that’s going to help you deploy and service those licences.

“One option: partners do everything themselves. They provide a 24x7 support desk on Office 365, which includes expertise in Word and Excel but also in Sharepoint, Yammer, Skype for Business. They help you with Azure and workloads and integrate into Microsoft’s back end, and they have a billing platform built that can extract your usage and add margins.

“Or, Option Two: they come to rhipe because we do all of that for them.”

Option Two is clearly resonating, as rhipe has 1,800 partners working with it across the region, and within a year of launching its Indirect Cloud Service Provider offering selling Microsoft’s public cloud, had signed up 440 partners which sold more than 53,000 seats on Office 365.

The largest provider of subscription licences for Microsoft in Asia Pacific, rhipe is headquartered in Australia and also operates in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the US. It was recently appointed by Microsoft to emerging countries in the region including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Bhutan, Brunei and Laos.

Across the region O’Hanlon says cloud computing is engineering entirely new economic models as cloud computing means; “You can turn it on and off when you want, you pay for what you use and your usage is elastic.”

At the same time O’Hanlon says cloud solutions deliver greater enterprise agility, support mobile flexible workforces, encourage innovation, and in some regional markets where it has been a challenge, help tackle software piracy issues.

Partners who are interested in attending the Australian Partner Conference can register here.

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