Top corporate IT VAR steps up cloud, mobile app development

With more than $5 billion in annual revenue, SHI International is the biggest minority- and woman-owned business in the United States.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Once upon a time SHI International was one of the biggest U.S. resellers of computer hardware and on-premises software. It was founded back in 1989, and its name actually is an acronym for Software-Hardware.

With more than $5 billion in annual revenue and at least 2,400 employees, SHI is still among the top 10 corporate VARs represent the usual enterprise IT suspects. But like many over long-time members of the technology distribution channel, it is dramatically stepping up its services and capabilities focused on cloud and mobile application delivery.

Just this week, the company announced a major push into mobile applications development, in conjunction with a specialist based in Piscataway, N.J., InnoviMobile. The focus of the relationship is on delivering turnkey mobile app development for enterprise, government and education customers. It includes both projects center on mobile apps that can be used internally by businesses to improve their operations and on technologies that companies can use to improve customer service and other consumer-facing processes.

"The ubiquity of mobile devices in the workplace today offer organizations new opportunities to increase productivity, efficiency and customer service," said Kevin English, senior manager of mobility at SHI. "Our partnership with InnoviMobile enables customers to fast-track mobile and tablet application development projects through an agile process that is delivered within reasonable timeframes and budgets."

The new services are a complement to SHI's rapidly expanding cloud integration practice. The company in November opened up a Cloud Marketplace through which it offers businesses Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as all sorts of devices to run them on.

At launch, there were 78 different SaaS offerings, including both applications and cloud infrastructure offerings from the likes of Microsoft, VMware, Amazon Web Services, HP Cloud, Rackspace and SHI's own cloud apps unit. And in mid-November, SHI beefed up its strategic relationship with Box:  it is now an elite integrator for the cloud storage service's complete range of content management and collaboration offerings.

Noted Thai Lee, president and CEO of SHI:

"Our partnership with Box grew out of businesses' need for a more accessible and scalable way to share and manage their content while consolidating the technologies and spend on the disparate tools they have been using. Since entering into this partnership, we've already booked Box orders for Fortune 100, academic and commercial SMB customers that require a secure, all-inclusive cloud service.

The new Cloud Marketplace will offer existing SHI customers an integrated way for existing customers to manage cloud applications and services within the context of their legacy IT infrastructure. A particular focus will be on ensuring that an organization's cloud investment strategy makes sense when compared with its existing volume licensing options.

"Many of our customers expect cloud computing to cut costs and provide agility, but finding the best option can be a time-consuming and expensive process," Lee said. "Many cloud platforms provide only half the equation. They either detail the cloud products available but don't allow users to complete a purchase, or they provide a select set of subscription-based services without comparisons to other vendors."

SHI's Cloud Marketplace, however, marries both capabilities, which is something that cloud-only integrators might find tough to do.

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