The big distribution firm SYNNEX, which describes itself more formally as a business process services company, has partnered with Microsoft to “build and power a cloud-connected digital signage solution.”
The solution enables “partners and end-users to create and publish content to an unlimited number of display devices from anywhere in the world through Microsoft’s Azure platform and SYNNEX’s CLOUDSolv portal.”
“SYNNEX engineers and designers, working alongside our vendor partner Microsoft, have built a radically simple, low-cost solution that empowers end-users, especially those in the small-to-medium business markets, to seamlessly manage their digital signage offerings,” says Rob Moyer, Senior Vice President, Cloud Services, Mobility and IoT, SYNNEX Corporation. “The Digital Signage IoT Solution couples our engineering with disruptive technology spanning multiple vendors to produce powerful business solutions that solve real-world challenges and drive revenue.”
“The digital signage solution is a part of the new wave of market-ready IoT solutions we’re excited to bring to our resellers,” says Tom Harshbarger, a former Microsoft sales manager who is now SYNNEX’s Sr. Director of Product Management, Cloud Platform and Services. “By working with amazing partners like Microsoft, we’re able to quickly address market needs and greatly reduce the barriers to entry for the partner community. It’s fun and exciting!”
The software uses Microsoft Azure cloud services and runs on PC sticks loaded with Windows 10 IoT Core. Deployment and provisioning of the digital signage solution is automated through SYNNEX’s CLOUDSolv portal. “This allows a virtually hands-free click and ship delivery,” says a marketing email describing the service. “Users can customize and publish their content through the management console, designed by SYNNEX and hosted on Azure, using a web browser on any computer with an Internet connection. The Azure IoT hub asynchronously pushes the content through local Wi-Fi to the plug-and-play edge devices attached to each display via HDMI or USB.
Microsoft is touted here but this appears to be primarily a SYNNEX thing using Azure and Windows devices. Certainly, I have seen lots of press announcements about companies using Azure, going back to Ayuda announcing its digital OOH platform was using Azure and forcing me to look up Azure on Google.
However, the Microsoft ties look a little more overt here and the IT architecture all seems to in Microsoft’s environment.
SYNNEX has been active in the digital signage ecosystem as a distributor for many years, but I think of the company listing and making available other people’s stuff – like screens, mounts and, to a lesser extent, software. I’ve not seen the company, which is headquartered in Silicon Valley, expressly market its own CMS software solution that effectively competes with companies that SYNNEX would call partners.
The deck I looked over suggests the monthly costs per node range from $9-$15, and the device of choice is an Asus Vivo PC stick, which is $135ish to buy.
This is a bit of a macro trend, I think, in that the major display guys like Samsung are increasingly marketing their own CMS software options (MagicInfo, in the case of Samsung) and player hardware companies like BrightSign seem to be offering increasingly robust and rich alternatives to what is marketed by a roster of partner software shops.
I don’t know enough about the disty business to pass judgement on the legs of this. I have seen SYNNEX, Ingram Micro and other monster companies take stabs at the software and services side of digital signage and not get very far. They are trying to offer solutions in businesses built around distributing physical things.
But I don’t know all the thinking here, or who it is aimed at, other than the resellers who get things through SYNNEX now.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.