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Game On: Ingram Micro Helps Partners Break Into An Untapped Market

Joseph F. Kovar

Ingram Micro is seeing a big opportunity for solution providers to tap into its gaming portfolio to help people work, live and play better.


Through its Business and Consumer Division, Ingram Micro sees a big opportunity for solution providers to tap into its gaming portfolio to help people work, live and play better, said Craig Birmingham, the distributor’s vice president and general manager for business and consumer solutions.

Birmingham told CRN his division o­ffers products and services that cut across all three areas, including technology to work remotely, deliver managed print services, enable in-class or remote education, and develop gaming and eSports environments.

“If you get them all working the same way, they’re all intertwined,” he said. “When COVID hit, home became the center of education, entertainment and work. We all became IT specialists and centers of video production.”

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That change helped drive Ingram Micro to invest in the gaming market, including building a six-station gaming arena in its Buffalo, N.Y., office, Birmingham said.

“It was really us being able to show our partners, ‘Hey, yeah, gaming’s cool. One, how do you sell it? Two, where do you sell it? And three, why is it important?’ It’s not just your kids playing on Xbox,” he said.

Opportunities in the gaming market are appearing from some pretty big investors and even the government, said James Rocker, CEO of Nerds That Care, a Bohemia, N.Y.- based MSP and gaming solution provider that is currently pursuing two gaming deals and leveraging Ingram Micro to support its e­ orts.

“We’re seeing eSports now at the same level we saw fantasy sports teams 10 years ago,” Rocker said. “There are people in Asia and Europe being paid a good amount of money to be eSports professionals. And just like any athlete, they need the best equipment. So this is an opportunity for us to build the infrastructure and gaming stations to support them.”

Ingram Micro has the products but needs MSPs like Nerds That Care to build the solutions gamers want, Rocker said.

“Gamers want a custom experience and are not looking for the out-of-the-box experience,” he said. This will encourage more MSPs like us to get involved.”

Gaming is gaining importance in the channel as partners find opportunities in verticals they already serve, said Nicholas Anthony Nanez, Ingram Micro’s senior vendor business manager for business and consumer solutions.

“Gaming is important because it’s really started to become popular outside of the home environment,” Nanez said. “And we’re seeing some of this popularity in the verticals that our partners are already selling into: education, hospitality and some commercial entertainment spaces.”

Because Ingram Micro provides partners the IT infrastructure technology behind these buildouts, the distributor is front and center when partners find a budget for creating an eSports lab, Nanez said.

“That’s why we felt that it was important for us to create this program, not only just to say, ‘Hey, here are the products that we o­ffer,’ but also walk them through what an end-to-end solution for these buildouts looks like,” he said.

Gaming is a small part of Ingram Micro’s Business and Consumer Division, but it draws on technology and services from across the entire division, from PCs and monitors to pro-AV o­ erings, making it a wide channel play, Birmingham said.

“We have resellers that are selling into the education space,” he said. “And there are full-ride scholarships now in gaming. And so you’ve got universities that are building out eSports labs as part of the curriculum, and they’re in competitions. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry right now.”

Solution providers looking to explore the business can get training and certifications, Nanez said. They could try for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-accredited certifications, or take courses with a varsity eSports foundation or the National Esports Association, which partners with Ingram Micro, to certify solution providers to become eSports trainers, coaches or program providers.

While there are some solution providers focused on building eSports programs, others often simply stumble across opportunities, Nanez said.

“They may be out doing installs in a library at a university, and the IT director and the athletic director get together because a budget’s [been] created for an eSports program,” he said. “And that’s when Ingram gets brought into the conversation because our IT solution provider doesn’t really know exactly what goes into creating a program and infrastructure.”

Ingram Micro’s new gaming center is similar to what one might see at an internet cafe or a university, Nanez said.

The six-station gaming center includes gaming PCs, a content creation streaming station, a full-blown racing rig with a 49-inch LG monitor, gaming lighting and wall graphics. The distributor can also help partners with customized wall graphics and game and school logos on the headrests on the chairs, he said.

The gaming lab is open by appointment only, Nanez said.

“Associates, vendor partners, reseller partners, even end users can come in as long as they’re with a reseller or a vendor to take a tour and see what we can help them with,” he said.

“I can’t wait to see what Ingram Micro [has built] in its gaming center,” Rocker said. “I look forward to bringing potential customers in to see some of the things being built out and maybe painting a picture of things customers hadn’t thought about.” 

Joseph F. Kovar

Joseph F. Kovar is a senior editor and reporter for the storage and the non-tech-focused channel beats for CRN. He keeps readers abreast of the latest issues related to such areas as data life-cycle, business continuity and disaster recovery, and data centers, along with related services and software, while highlighting some of the key trends that impact the IT channel overall. He can be reached at

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