Ingram Micro has launched a new cloud computing program for solution providers, where VARs can go to learn about the technology, accelerate their own initiatives and find and partner with another cloud provider.
Ingram Micro Cloud will serve as the "epicenter" of the distributor's IT services strategy, a one-stop shop that includes a new cloud-focused Website, marketplace and the Ingram Micro Cloud Services Network, an organization based on the company's successful Ingram Micro Services Network where VARs can go to procure cloud-related solutions from other cloud providers.
"We're really excited about the launch of the Ingram Micro Cloud platform. Predominantly, we'll be focused on biz development and education," said Renee Bergeron, vice president, managed services and cloud computing, Ingram Micro North America.
Ingram Micro conducted a survey last summer that indicated 80 percent of VARs plan to include cloud services as part of their business plan going forward, Bergeron said.
"But they don't know how to go forward and incorporate it into their portfolio. This platform really addresses that. It helps them understand cloud services, what they need to change and transform their businesses and build a business plan successfully," Bergeron said.
"Less than 20 percent [of the survey's respondents] deliver cloud services today and very few of them, about 10 percent, claim to be experts. That illustrates a need for education and assistance to help them build revenue," Bergeron added.
Ingram's Cloud Marketplace initially includes solutions from vendors in Ingram Micro's Seismic program as well as others, including AlertLogic, Autotask, CA Technologies, GroupSpark, IBM, Intermedia, Level Platforms, McAfee, Microsoft, MX Logic, NetEnrich, Nimsoft, PrintAudit, Rackspace Hosting and Vaultlogix.
In addition, Ingram Micro Cloud has launched an affiliate program that includes solutions from Advanced eMedia, Awareness Technologies, GoGrid, Jive Communications, LeadMaster and Workspace Communications.
VARs just getting started in cloud can tap into existing partners' expertise through the Cloud Network which includes terms and conditions designed to protect the VAR from having a customer poached, Bergeron said.
"The challenge with cloud services is twofold. First, where do you start? If you're an end user, the benefits resonate because it gives you agility, ability, ubiquity. But where to start? You need to do an assessment of the evolving enterprise architecture. We have selected a number of partners that specialize in cloud solutions and can help through that process so a reseller can best leverage a cloud solution," Bergeron said. "The second challenge is once a reseller sells a cloud service to an end user client, how to integrate that service within rest of the IT environment. That's where a reseller can reach out and work with cloud services experts."
Next: Cloud Training For Owners, Sales, Tech StaffThe Ingram Micro Cloud Services Network offers similar terms as the Ingram Micro Service Network, which has been successful for many years, Bergeron said.
"The terms cover non-poaching and limitations in terms of how the cloud service partner can approach the client without the reseller involved," she said.
"Ingram Micro is really responding to forces in the market and demand for cloud expertise. A lot of VARs don't have in-house expertise and are looking to connect with someone because they see this opportunity but can't capitalize on it," said Tony Safoian, president and CEO of SADA Systems, a North Hollywood, Calif.-based cloud provider and member of the Ingram Micro Cloud Services Network. "We hope to establish some relationships with VARs who don't see cloud fitting into their strategy in terms of capacity development for some time."
"Ingram Micro is leading the pack by looking at the cloud, especially considering their traditional business, and seeing the opportunity and building network of vendors that would help them support their entire evolution of cloud computing," said Eran Gil, vice president of business development at Cloud Sherpas, an Atlanta-based solution provider that specializes in Google Apps solutions and application development.
Cloud Sherpas also is a member of the Ingram Micro Cloud Services Network looking for partners. "Since Ingram Micro touches so many different industries at so many different levels, the opportunity to see an inflow of business is significant," Gil said.
Ingram Micro Cloud also contains a three-pronged educational program for VARs: tracks for business owners, sales staff and technical staff, Bergeron said.
"For the business owner, it addresses how to build your business plan. The sales [track] is really focused on how selling services is different than selling hardware or software. It's really aimed at getting some new tools to the salesperson. The last set is aimed at the technical team and explains the fundamental differences in implementing cloud solutions," Bergeron said.
Ingram Micro also has a library of white papers and other reference materials, she said.
"That adds a lot of value as well. Finally, we have a blog and community site we set up for our resellers. They have an area to put forward ideas, get feedback and really interact and build their business around cloud services," she said.