Ingram Micro Adds Office 365 To Its Cloud Marketplace

Ingram Micro Monday added Microsoft Office 365 to its Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace, with technology making it possible for channel partners in the U.S. and Canada to provision, invoice, manage and support Office 365 in real time.

Solution providers going through the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace also will be able to bundle Office 365 with other cloud services in the marketplace such as an around-the-clock Service Desk (which Microsoft requires for Office 365) or SkyKick Migration Services and still provide their customers with a single invoice, said Renee Bergeron, Ingram Micro's vice president of global cloud computing.

Without the automation, Bergeron said partners would have to manually invoice each separate item.

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"That simplicity in the cloud is realized at the end customer level," Bergeron said. "The complexity is at the channel level, and that's how we all make money."

"We want to enable you to do the 'not-fun' stuff quickly and efficiently," Judson Althoff, president of Microsoft North America, told attendees at the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2015, being held at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix.

Channel partners can also bundle their own migration services with Office 365 and produce a consolidated bill, Ingram Micro's Bergeron said, shortening the sales cycle and simplifying the deployment process. By doing that, Microsoft's Althoff said solution providers can free up more time for managed services, which is more likely to generate revenue.

The project automation technology also will make it possible for partners to scale Office 365 subscriptions up or down in real time, Bergeron told CRN, as opposed to having to wait for as long as 48 hours to manually place orders.

Ingram Micro has differentiated itself from other distributors by enabling its channel partners to easily expand into new vertical or horizontal markets, said Althoff, adding that Microsoft is looking to leverage Ingram Micro's cloud partner ecosystem to extend its delivery base.

"We are super-aligned with Ingram Micro, and we want to deliver every cloud service we have through them," Althoff said.

Ingram Micro's Cloud Marketplace leverages Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program, Althoff said, which enables solution providers to directly provision, manage and invoice their Office 365 subscriptions.

Partners will be able to set their own price for Office 365, which Bergeron said is very useful given that pricing is more tied nowadays to the value a customer can derive from a solution rather than a particular margin.

Weidenhammer Systems, a Wyomissing, Pa.-based Ingram Micro partner, expects that many Microsoft Exchange Server clients will want to have their email hosted in the cloud, resulting in Office 365 being a widely accepted platform.

The real driver of Office 365 implementation, according to company President John Weidenhammer, is that email is the most mission-critical application that clients have today, beyond even business management systems. And the fact that Office 365 is in Ingram Micro's Cloud Marketplace will make it easier for the solution provider to drive sales of related solutions, Weidenhammer said.

Walpole, Mass.-based Ingram Micro partner Datasmith is looking at more Microsoft offerings, said Paul Smith, partner at Datasmith. "Everyone uses Microsoft in their workplace," he said.

CommQuest President Mark Sanchez, however, said margin opportunities are a driving factor behind which solutions the Loganville, Ga.-based company offers. Sanchez believes there's more money to be made in areas such as application hosting and CRM hosting.