EMC Ends Storage Relationship With Ingram Micro

EMC has decided to end its relationship with Ingram Micro just seven months after recognizing the company as its distributor of the year, according to Ingram Micro.

An Ingram Micro spokesperson told CRN via email that, as of April 17, solution providers will no longer be able to source their EMC storage purchases through Ingram Micro, although its relationship with EMC's VMware and RSA businesses will continue.

The Santa Ana, Calif.-based distributor found out about this decision earlier this month directly from EMC, the spokesperson said. The transition is expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter.

[RELATED: Ingram Micro Combines Advanced Technology, Advanced Computing Divisions]

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Ingram Micro has been working with EMC for the past eight years in the United States, Canada and Australia, although the company spokesperson classified the relationship as "not material."

Ingram Micro declined to disclose the number of channel partners affected and the percentage of its revenue that stems from EMC offerings.

In a statement EMC emailed to CRN in response to a request for more information, the storage vendor wrote, "EMC is currently rationalizing our distribution program -- for both our partners' benefit and our own. While we won't be sharing specifics, we can confirm that we haven't dropped anyone, however in some cases, we simply concentrated their focus geographically."

Technically, per the EMC statement, the vendor is not dropping Ingram Micro because it is maintaining the distribution relationship for its VMware and RSA businesses.

However, it is not clear from the statement whether EMC is actually denying that it has dropped its Ingram Micro relationship specific to EMC's storage business. EMC did not respond to a request for further information by press time.

EMC will maintain its distribution relationships with Arrow, Avnet and Tech Data, according to the Ingram Micro spokesperson.

The EMC news comes just five days after Ingram Micro announced it was combining its Advanced Computing and Advanced Technology divisions into a single Advanced Solution organization that will support everything from storage and the data center to enterprise software and specialized solutions.

EMC's departure had no impact on Ingram Micro's decision to reorganize, the spokesperson said.

Ingram Micro has put out partner communications on EMC's decision, the spokesperson said, and will leverage its sales and technical team to support partners through the transition.

Ingram Micro is working to ensure that all quotes and opportunities from EMC transition over to whoever sources the relationship in the future.

"We want our partners to have no disruption to their business during this transition," Scott Zahl, Ingram Micro's vice president of advanced solutions, said in a statement.

Ingram Micro also will help EMC partners migrate over to storage alternatives from Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Nimble and Nutanix that continue to be in the distributor's portfolio, the spokesperson said.

The move is a big deal for Houston-based EMC solution provider Computex Technology Solutions, said CEO Sam Haffar.

Computex, which Haffar described as a big channel partner for EMC, told CRN that his company was totally blindsided by the news. "We were unaware this was going on until we got the call from Ingram Micro," he said.

Computex has worked with Ingram Micro for 27 years, and was doing tens of millions of dollars of EMC business through the distributor, Haffar said.

"We have been on a growth mode with Ingram Micro over the years," he said. "We're still going to be an EMC partner. We're just disappointed. I'm a big Ingram fan. It's been a phenomenal business for 27 years. They've done nothing but support our business."

While Computex already has a relationship with Arrow and Tech Data, there is a lot of work to be done to transition its EMC business over to a new distributor, Haffar said. "When we choose a new distributor, we'll have to transfer our programs and special pricing," he said.

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Other EMC partners, such as Houston-based Lumenate, are less concerned.

Jamie Shepard, Lumenate's senior vice president of health care and strategy, told CRN via email that Avnet's expertise and service were far superior to any of EMC's other distribution partners.

Avnet's ability to successfully integrate Lumenate's business with EMC's back office, sales and manufacturing allowed the solution provider to grow its EMC business by 60 percent year-over-year between 2009 and 2013, Shepard said.

The decline in EMC and Ingram Micro's relationship was swift given that Ingram Micro was recognized as EMC's distributor of the year in June 2014.

At that time, Ingram Micro's EMC portfolio was enjoying double-digit growth, with Ingram Micro forging more net new partner and channel relationships in 2013 than any other EMC distributor in North America.

"These results also clearly demonstrated how Ingram Micro has enriched its EMC relationship to help us fuel growth and ensure success for our channel partners," Maureen Perrelli, EMC's senior director of global distribution, said in a June 2014 statement. "We congratulate Ingram Micro on an outstanding year and this well-deserved recognition."

Ingram Micro's biggest recent project with EMC has revolved around configuring and installing EMC's VSPEX reference architecture, which are a set of blueprints that specify how to connect EMC storage and servers and networking products from other vendors.

Ingram Micro built out a VSPEX practice that allows EMC to ship fully integrated VSPEX infrastructure offerings directly to end users via the channel.

Dan Hoppock, then-director of Ingram Micro's Advanced Computing division, told CRN in April 2012 that his company already had experience integrating its own vBundle reference architecture for partners based on EMC storage.

Ingram Micro also developed a fully integrated physical security appliance in 2013 that relies on EMC's Isilon, the distributor said.

In 2011, Ingram Micro's lineup of integrated virtualization bundles was expanded to include EMC's VNXe storage systems, which were designed primarily for SMBs.

That launch was accompanied by an EMC-designed marketing campaign available to Ingram Micro partners that included co-branded, partner-led banners, email campaigns, micro-sites and postcards.

Two years earlier, Ingram Micro opened an EMC Velocity2 Solution Center at its Buffalo, N.Y., complex to enable demonstration of backup, recovery, archive and virtualization solutions in real-world environments, as well as education classes around EMC data center infrastructure.

Ingram Micro's relationship with EMC started in 2006, but really picked up a year later when it agreed to carry EMC's prior Clarriion, Celerra and Centera storage lines, as well as the Insignia line of small business storage hardware and software.

The move gave Ingram Micro a much wider EMC product line in the small business market than either Arrow or Avnet. And it made Ingram Micro the only distributor in North America to carry EMC's entire line of products that shipped to the channel.