CHICAGO – As expected, the cloud was the major buzzword at this year’s VTN Spring Invitational here, and hosting distributor Ingram Micro used the event as the stage for the launch of a series of seven more cloud and managed services offerings.
The distributor introduced four new vendor relationships – deals with Intermedia, Fujitsu America and Sonicwall, as well as three pieces with IBM, further rounding out its array of cloud and managed-services offerings.
The new products were introduced by Renée Bergeron, vice president of managed services and cloud computing at Ingram, who called the offerings “just the beginning.”
Here are the details of the new programs.
The partnership with Fujitsu America moves Ingram Micro into the growing space for outsourced service desk solutions, an increasingly packed opportunity within the managed services community.
With Big Blue, Ingram has signed on to work with three of the giant’s new Smart Cloud services – Smart Business Cloud Enterprise service for compute-on-demand; and Fast Protect Online and Remote Data Protection, two of its Managed Backup cloud services which handle offsite backup and recovery for endpoint devices and servers respectively.
The Intermedia partnership is an extension of the distributor’s existing relationship with the hosting vendor, adding hosted PBX to its mix of services for the first time.
The Sonicwall partnership is around hosted firewall, and came as a result of feedback from the VentureTech community, Bergeron said. “It’s an example of how we can add value – once we understand the need, we make sure we have a program in place,” she said.
The Fujitsu and Sonicwall partnerships are North America-wide, and the IBM components will be available in Canada shortly, Bergeron said. But the hosted PBX offering is a U.S.-only offering for the time being.
By expanding its partnerships and developing its Ingram Micro Cloud Web site, the distributor is aiming to make itself a “one-stop shop” for cloud-based offerings for its resellers. To that end, Bergeron said the company would add as many vendors as it can, provided all offerings under its umbrella are differentiated. That differentiation can and will include made-in-Canada cloud solutions, particularly where data storage or other concerns favour Canadian customers buying from Canadian sources.
“As we complete the lineup, we’ll have global providers and we’ll have some specific Canada-based vendor partners who will be focused specifically on the Canadian market,” Bergeron said. The executives hinted at Canada-specific cloud partners as soon as the distributor’s second-annual Cloud Summit in early June.
Already, the company has a variety of offerings in similar spaces, but carrying differentiation. For example, a solution provider eyeing a hosted Exchange capability through Ingram can choose to essentially “roll their own” hosted Exchange by working with an infrastructure-as-a-service, monitoring and NOC partners, can choose Intermedia-hosted and white-labeled Exchange, or can opt for the Microsoft hosted BPOS (soon to be Office 365) route.
It points out an interesting disconnect – as much as many channel partners are concerned by the cloud, in many ways, partners have more options than ever thanks to different classes of solutions available depending on their individual business models and customer needs.
“Every VAR should have a cloud strategy with each of their clients – you have to have a part of it,” said Jason Bystrak, director of service sales at Ingram. “So many partners are afraid it’s going to commoditize their business, but really there’s more than ever to do.”
Bergeron echoed those comments, saying that the role of the solution provider is almost more important than ever in the cloud, as the integrator and aggregator combining services into solutions.
“The reality is that the end user is going to be a hybrid, and the role of the reseller is reinforced by the need to manage that complexity,” Bergeron said. “We think that validates the role of the reseller and the role of the distributor.”
However that’s a role many solution providers are struggling with, particularly with finding the right invoicing models and sales compensation plans that reflect the recurring revenues nature of the cloud. Bystrak said the distributor is offering counsel on that in the form of educational content on its Ingram Micro Cloud Web site. To date, he said some 1,500 solution providers have downloaded more than 12,000 whitepapers on cloud-related issues in the channel since the site debuted last fall.