Ingram Micro To Integrate Hardware Into Cloud Bundles, Beef Up Technical Support

Ingram Micro is looking to make its cloud offering more appealing by improving customer service and integrating more hardware into its cloud bundles.

The Irvine, Calif.-based distributor has ’heard loud and clear’ the calls from partners to improve its customer service, and is making ’significant changes’ to ensure customers receive support that’s applicable to their specific configuration, Renee Bergeron, Ingram Micro’s vice president of global cloud, said Tuesday at the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit in Phoenix.

’We’ve had some challenges, and our partners have told us that they need more,’ Bergeron told the audience.

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Technical support is a short-term area of focus for Ingram Micro, Bergeron said, with the distributor making significant investments to broaden its capabilities and expertise beyond service-level problems with platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

There are more than a thousand ways that an Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution can be configured, and helping partners regardless of how they implemented the solution is very complex, Bergeron said.

The distributor is also looking to extend its Cloud Marketplace – an automated online console offering instant access to a variety of leading offerings – beyond just cloud products, Bergeron said.

"We are starting to work on some bundles that will include some hardware,’ Bergeron said. ’This is definitely part of the vision.’

Some easy opportunities for hardware integration would be around backup and recovery or bundling a Microsoft Surface product with an Office 365 subscription.

’We’re starting to see it coming, and we’re definitely going to see a lot more,’ Bergeron said.

But to succeed in the cloud, solution providers must also commit to working with more vendors and become more intentional about building a practice, said Jason Bystrak, executive director of the Americas for Ingram Micro Cloud.

Too often, Bystrak said partners are selling just a single component of a larger point solution, which has limited value to end users. But partners that put the time and effort into pre-bundling comprehensive solutions with components from three to six different cloud vendors enjoy margins two to three times higher than partners that don’t.

’This allows them to change the whole sales conversation and address the line-of-business leaders more,’ Bystrak said.

Some of the most lucrative bundling opportunities are around security applications, managed services and professional services, Bystrak said.

Bergeron said Ingram Micro cloud partners average seven active end-user subscribers occupying a combined 85 seats. Bystrak said that’s not nearly enough.

’An average of seven end clients is a hobby, not a practice,’ Bystrak said. ’They need to make some fundamental changes with their go-to-market strategy.’

Bystrak urged partners to examine their approach to cloud marketing as well as their sales compensation and training models to drive more cloud adoption and get to an average of 20 to 40 end-user subscriptions. Bergeron cautioned that partners who don’t get to 20 active subscriptions by the end of 2016 will find themselves playing catchup in an ecosystem that – unlike software – doesn’t require annual renewals.

’It’s a land grab, and you want to be there first,’ Bergeron said during her keynote address.

Pearl Technologies has been doing private cloud for a long time, and roughly one-fifth of its sales today are cloud-oriented, according to Mark Roach, president and CEO of the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company. Despite some security concerns from clients, Roach said Bergeron and Bystrak’s comments were confirmation that his company is reading in the right direction.

Arctic Information Technology, based in Anchorage, Alaska, plans to continue accelerating its cloud practice, which today is primarily focused around Office 365, said Mark Mathis, senior account executive for the company. Mathis urged folks not already invested in the cloud to get moving.

’The train has almost left the station,’ he said.