Ingram Micro has been tapped as the first distributor to automate ordering, provisioning and billing around the Cisco Spark business collaboration service through Ingram Micro's Cloud Marketplace.
The new arrangement will make it possible for small and midsized channel partners to get instant pricing and same-day service for Cisco Spark, according to Julie Hens, Cisco's vice president of global distribution. Spark is currently available through distribution, but Hens said the process had required phone calls and the manual submission of process orders.
The Cloud Marketplace allows solution providers to provision and place Spark without having to contact Ingram Micro or Cisco, according to Renee Bergeron, Ingram's senior vice president of global cloud. Bergeron said this required collaboration between the Ingram Micro and Cisco engineering teams so that the two systems could talk to one another.
"They were ready to add a Cisco offering, and we were ready with our API technology to support it," Hens told CRN. "Because of our relationship, it made sense to start with Ingram."
Other distribution partners continue to have access to Spark through traditional procurement methods, Hens said, and will be authorized to offer it through their cloud portals in the future.
Adding Spark to the Cloud Marketplace has shortened the typical ordering and provisioning process from a week to just four hours, according to Travis Williams, vice president of sales and customer service for Boise, Idaho-based Stability Networks. Roughly three-quarters of the process have been automated, Williams said, including the registration, quoting and submission process.
Price transparency is another key benefit of adding Spark to the Cloud Marketplace since quotes are available directly through the portal, Williams said. Before the marketplace, Williams said solution providers making a Spark purchase worth less than $10,000 were subject to higher prices.
"You didn't know what prices you were going to get until you completed the deal registration," Williams told CRN. "Now, we don't have to worry about what our pricing to going to be every time."
The partnership will make it possible for salespeople to provision Spark directly from their mobile devices while visiting a customer location, Bergeron said, delivering near-instantaneous results and value. It will also drive up-sell and cross-sell opportunities around devices and security, Hens said.
Bergeron said appearing on the Cloud Marketplace will allow Cisco to get Spark in front of different types of channel partners since more than a third of telecom providers provision their offerings through Odin software, which was acquired by Ingram Micro last year.