Ingram Micro to Roll Out Two-Tier Cloud Partner Program in January

Ingram Micro will move from a single tier to a two-tiered cloud loyalty program in January and offer MDF and co-op dollars to its top cloud partners.

The Santa Ana, Calif.-based distributor will also in the next two months integrate cloud billing capabilities into Autotask and ConnectWise and unveil a cloud referral program for ISVs and telecom agents that don't want to invest heavily in the cloud, Jason Bystrak, executive director of Ingram Micro Cloud for the Americas, told CRN Tuesday during Ingram Micro ONE in Nashville, Tenn.

Cloud Elevate, Ingram Micro's cloud loyalty program, will for the first time move to a two-tiered approach to better support born-in-the-cloud or more experienced cloud partners, according to Bystrak. Many of Ingram Micro's more successful cloud partners were asking the distributor to adopt a two-tier channel approach, he said.

[Related: Ingram Micro CEO: We Must Place Bigger Bets On Cloud, Mobility, E-Commerce]

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Most of the market development funds and co-op funds offered to partners in the top tier will be tied to classic marketing activities around search engine optimization, business intelligence and data mining, Bystrak said. Non-financial rewards for elite cloud partners will include additional platform enhancements and management tracks, as well as more events, education, training and certification opportunities, he said.

Ingram Micro has not yet determined the threshold for entry into the top tier of the Cloud Elevate program, Bystrak said, or roughly how many of its current 7,000 Cloud Elevate partners in North America will fall into each tier. The distributor has also yet to set goals for how much additional revenue Cloud Elevate is expected to drive under the new two-tiered approach, Bystrak said.

The lower tier of Cloud Elevate will continue to be open to any partners interested in joining with no associated revenue thresholds, Bystrak said. The lower tier will retain the benefits available to all Cloud Elevate members today, which Bystrak said are centered on education and training.

Cloud Elevate is expected to continue driving scale and cross-selling opportunities across bundles in verticals such as finance and legal, Bystrak said.

For partners that wish to monetize cloud opportunities within their existing customer base but don't want to invest in their own cloud practice, Ingram Micro plans to debut a cloud referral program in January.

This program will enable Ingram Micro to take on cloud billing and support for end users upon the request of a channel partner, Renee Bergeron, vice president of worldwide cloud computing, told more than 1,900 people during ONE General Session at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.

Bystrak expects the referral program to be most appealing to ISVs and telecom agents who are interested in getting into the cloud but don't have the desire to manage the entire solution themselves.

Partners participating in the referral program will be compensated through a commission model, which Bystrak said will align well will how telecom agents do much of their other business. Unlike in a resale model, Bystrak said, Ingram Micro will have complete control over the pricing and margins around cloud services offered through its referral program.

Microsoft is expected to be the first vendor supported through the referral program, and Bystrak expects interests to be strong. Ingram Micro hopes to eventually have all of the vendors participating in its Cloud Marketplace available through the referral program, Bystrak said.

Ingram Micro also plans to streamline operations for partners looking to bundle their own managed or professional services with the distributor's cloud offerings by enabling billing to be pushed into Autotask or ConnectWise. This means MSPs will be able to give their clients a single monthly invoice for both managed services and sales of products such as Microsoft Office 365 or IBM SoftLayer, Bystrak said.

The additional professional service automation (PSA) integration stems from feedback received by Ingram Micro's newly hired customer advocate, and will be available to partners by the end of 2015, Bystrak said.

Ingram Micro also last year integrated Level 1 and Level 2 service desk support into the PSA systems so that the distributor could take end user support calls and feed the information back into Autotask or ConnectWise, Bystrak said.

Frontier Technologies wants to get more involved in selling cloud and believes leveraging Ingram Micro to establish and grow a practice will provide the best avenue for doing that, according to Krish Moorthy, chief operating officer. Specifically, the Wilmington, Del.-based Ingram partner wants help scaling up and marketing a cloud-based storage solution for disaster recovery, Moorthy said.

Conversely, limited local high-speed Internet connectivity and continued strong demand for on-premise support around servers has prompted Columbus, Neb.-based Connecting Point to hold off on investing in cloud for the near future, according to owner Tony Keisha.