Ingram Exec: Channel's Role Won't Shrink In The Cloud


Cloud computing is a disruptive technology that has triggered fears over the future of channel relationships. But Renee Bergeron, vice president of cloud computing and managed services at Ingram Micro, believes that VARs and distributors will remain an important part of the cloud business equation.

In a Tuesday keynote at Camera Corner/Connecting Point's Technology Expo 2011 in Green Bay, Wisc., Bergeron said despite all the hype around cloud computing, the reality is that most businesses are going to require a combination of on-premise software, managed services and cloud offerings.

Therefore, Bergeron said, organizations are still going to need guidance in picking the cloud technologies that best fit their needs. "There are some things you just can't do in the cloud," she said. "But even in the cloud, I'd argue that the value of the channel will be the same as it has been."

Hybrid IT environments are more complex and it'll be up to solution provider to integrate the different technology parts into a smoothly functioning whole, Bergeron said.

"As a reseller, you're still going to be figuring out the right cloud solutions for your customers. You have to figure out if a particular cloud service is just a couple of guys who put their software on Windows Azure overnight, or something from an established cloud player," she said.

On the distribution side, Ingram Micro's Cloud Marketplace, launched last November, is where VARs can go to learn about cloud computing technology, get their own initiatives rolling and find and partner with other cloud providers. It also makes it easier for companies to buy cloud services through the channel as opposed to buying direct, Bergeron said.

Ingram Micro does organizational and technology due diligence on all vendors it certifies for the Cloud Marketplace, ensuring that a company's cloud services can scale over time, Bergeron said.

Managing contracts and invoices from multiple cloud vendors is something companies would like to avoid, and the channel can step in here, too, and cut out the overhead, said Bergeron. The same is true of service management, where Ingram aggregates service levels of multiple different cloud vendors to give VARs a picture of who’s meeting SLAs and who's not.

Ingram's goal is to assemble a full portfolio of cloud solutions that VARs can pick and choose from according to their own business needs. "We recognize that you may want to do some things on your own, such as maintaining control of the data center, for example," she said.