Ingram Micro Ups Cloud Ante: Adds Partnerships, Channel Enhancements, Hosted Services

Ingram Micro announced cloud partnerships with IBM and Parallels and introduced a bevy of new hosted services. At its Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2014 being held in Hollywood, Fla., this week the leading IT distributor said the tools were aimed at simplifying its partners' ability to deploy, manage and bill for cloud services as they move more business to the cloud.

As part of its cloud offensive, Ingram Micro adds three new hosted services to its portfolio, including Ingram Micro Hosted Exchange, Ingram Micro Virtual Private Server and Ingram Micro Web Hosting. The distributor also announced "white glove" services that allowed companies to supplement aspects of their cloud business, including sales, technical sales engineering, migration and on-boarding, service desk and remote infrastructure management.

Ingram Micro also revealed an undisclosed equity investment in the company Parallels that will now power a new Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace. The Cloud Marketplace, Ingram Micro said, provides single pane access to Ingram Micro's large network of buyers, sellers and cloud services, such as procurement, provisioning and the management of cloud services.

Partners attending the conference applauded Ingram Micro's updates to its cloud portfolio, saying the cloud enhancements would help them find success in selling more cloud services.

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Joe Ansilinger, practice lead of managed services at Jasper, Ind.-based Matrix Integration, said the Cloud Marketplace solved key pain points when deploying and managing cloud services. "Juggling multiple cloud services for customers can quickly turn into a time-intensive nightmare," Ansilinger said. "If Ingram Micro can give me a single pane of glass access to deploy, manage and bill, that’s a lifesaver."

Ansilinger said Ingram Micro's Cloud Marketplace had the potential to give him scale, agility and access a diverse number of cloud services without having to place one bet on one cloud provider such as Amazon or Microsoft.

Part of Ingram Micro's cloud push Tuesday included an expansion of its channel program to include new cloud-related offerings. Options include a new Cloud Referral Program and Cloud Private Label Program.

Renee Bergeron, vice president of cloud computing at Ingram Micro, who unveiled the new cloud offerings during her keynote address to the Cloud Summit, said Ingram Micro could save companies tens of thousands of dollars by consolidating services through its suite of cloud offerings.

"By partnering with Ingram Micro Cloud you can choose how to engage. You can choose how much or how little you want Ingram to do on your behalf. That allows you to grow your business and maximize your profitability," she told attendees.

She said a typical company deploying five separate cloud services for a customer could save roughly $69,000 by working with Ingram Micro cloud tools. Those tools, she said, helped partners find solutions, avoid exhaustive testing of solutions, streamlined the ordering process, simplified the provisioning of users, and eliminated the need to bring in legal counsel to review individual contracts. "Can you do this all on your own? Absolutely, but is it the most efficient and cost-effective way for you to run your cloud business? Absolutely not," Bergeron said.

Lastly, Ingram Micro expanded on the number of vendor partners and cloud solutions.

It announced IBM and its SoftLayer Infrastructure services will be available through Ingram Micro, along with data center colocation services from 365 Main, telecommunication services from Charter, Office 365 migration tools from SkyKick and online payroll products from SurePayroll. Currently, Ingram Micro boasts relationships with 70 vendors that provide the Cloud Marketplace with 200 cloud solutions.

Ingram Micro said its new hosted services and its Cloud Marketplace will be rolled out first in the U.S. and Canada, beginning this quarter, with Mexico, Europe, Australia and New Zealand to follow.

"There are still a lot of unknowns about what exactly Ingram Micro is rolling out," said one attendee who asked not to be identified. "Ingram Micro has been a great partner, but I'm skeptical of a one-size-fits-all approach to managing cloud services," he said. "What are the cost involved? What type of granular control over services will I have with these white-glove services? And, most importantly what is the pricing?"

Bergeron told CRN program specifics would be available closer to launch dates.