Ingram Micro, Tech Data Add IBM SoftLayer To Cloud Line Cards

In an effort to expand their respective cloud marketplaces for partners, Ingram Micro and Tech Data added IBM SoftLayer to their U.S. cloud vendor lineups, the distributors said this week.

Ingram Micro revealed the move Monday at the kickoff of its ONE Ingram Micro event in Las Vegas. On Tuesday at its Channel Link event in Orlando, Fla., Tech Data said it too was adding IBM SoftLayer to its line card.

For its part, Ingram Micro said it would be expanding its relationship with SoftLayer into the U.S. under its Ingram Micro Cloud division, expanding on the global relationship exclusive of the U.S. that the Santa Ana, Calif.-based distributor first unveiled at its Cloud Summit in April.

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Tech Data said it would be expanding its relationship with IBM to bring SoftLayer to partners in the U.S .and Europe. The Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor also said it would be offering limited-time migration services through Racemi, a provider of cloud migration tools and services. Tech Data partners will get access to the Racemi Cloud Path Software-as-a-Service offering until the end of October.

Renee Bergeron, vice president of worldwide cloud computing at Ingram Micro, said partners have been "buzzing" for the company to bring the solution to its U.S. market portfolio and said it is a continuation of a "great partnership" with IBM. The Ingram Micro team is ready to help solution providers navigate through configuration, migration, management and more, as the Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution can be difficult for them to navigate, she said.

"We've put together a program to help our resellers through that," Bergeron said. "We've hired some field technical consultants and we're really doubling down on the effort around the Infrastructure-as-a-Service solutions such as SoftLayer," Bergeron said.

Connie Noyes, director of product marketing in Tech Data's IBM solutions group, said Tech Data is able to provide value above and beyond the SoftLayer solution through the support that partners might not get from IBM alone, saying that SoftLayer is more of a self-service solution. In particular, she said partners that might not be as familiar with the cloud will be able to leverage the technology much more easily than they could on their own. For those who are more comfortable with the cloud, Noyes said it provides partners with a variety of options to fit their client needs.

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Over the past few months, Ingram Micro has been making an aggressive push into the cloud marketplace, centered around a series of moves in April, including the launch of multiple hosted offerings and the next generation of its Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace. Bergeron said Ingram Micro has seen strong growth with the Cloud Marketplace in particular, with 600 more partners signed up since April.

"The marketplace is at the heart of our strategy. Everything is going to go through there," Bergeron said. "It’s a massive program. It's important for us to get critical mass on the marketplace because for resellers that’s where they're going to get the maximum value."

Bergeron said to expect new vendors being added to the Cloud Marketplace lineup every month.

Daniel Cheng, president at Mississauga, Ontario-based AMA, an Ingram Micro partner, said AMA does a lot of work around Microsoft Office 365 as well building out its own private cloud offerings. AMA uses the Ingram Cloud Marketplace and has seen a lot of success in that area, especially around using the cloud aggregation services, he said.

"The Ingram Cloud services is growing rapidly as we see the transition from a traditional on-prem stuff to cloud services. I think Ingram is making the right investment in cloud with a lot of potential," Cheng said.

Rodger Baldwin, executive account manager at Innovation First International, said the company has partnered with Ingram Micro for 12 years and is "diving more" into cloud solutions and work with Ingram Micro, but he hasn't yet taken much of a look at the Cloud Marketplace.

Stacy Nethercoat, vice president of Tech Data's TDcloud unit, said that while both distributors will be bringing the SoftLayer solution to market, as well as other similar vendors, she thinks Tech Data is taking a more channel-friendly approach by pursuing pure aggregation and not developing its own hosted solutions.

"I think it's important to point out that Tech Data has stated in the past and continues to take the position that we don’t compete with our vendors and we don’t compete with our partners," Nethercoat said. "We believe very strongly in being the center of bringing vendor services and partners together. That sort of contrasts with many of our colleagues in the distribution industry and I think very relevant in this case."

Multiple Ingram executives told CRN that the company's own hosted solutions wouldn't compete with vendors or partners and the company was taking steps to ensure its cloud strategy didn't overlap with partners and would instead benefit all parties.

Regardless of their approach, both distributors agreed bringing SoftLayer into their solutions mix will be a good move for partners and predicted a lot of opportunity both with IBM and across the cloud marketplace going forward.