Ingram Micro Updates Cloud Marketplace To Help Microsoft Partners With NCE

‘We always need to make sure that what we can do is make the experience of going through a channel better than going direct,’ Ingram Micro’s Victor Baez tells CRN.


IT distributor Ingram Micro is rolling out enhancements to its Cloud Marketplace with the goal of easing how partners work with Microsoft Azure and the vendor’s controversial new commerce experience (NCE) platform.

Among the changes from Irvine, Calif.-based Ingram is Azure usage billing reports meant to save partner-customers time on billing reconciliation. The reports come with cost visibility, the ability to self-run periodic reports and real-time billing projection, Victor Baez, Ingram’s senior vice president of cloud, told CRN in an interview.

“NCE is an amazing platform,” Baez said. “However, it came with some additional complexities. And we’ve been gathering feedback from the partners, what they need to be more successful.”

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Ingram Micro Updates Marketplace For Microsoft NCE

In a recent interview with CRN, Paul Kunze, CEO of Braintree, Mass.-based Citrix partner IntraSystems, said that working more with marketplaces is part of the company’s strategy looking ahead and that he sees Ingram Micro as helpful for getting there.

“The people at Ingram have been very helpful,” Kunze said. “They knew that this was coming, that they had to be a cloud service provider. So they’ve done a pretty good job with that.”

Ingram is also adding Microsoft NCE billing configurations to simplify how partner-customers schedule, co-term and automate subscription commitments.

As customers sign up for more subscriptions throughout a given year, they will have the option to have all of those subscriptions expire under the same term, Baez said. And if a customer knows that employee count will grow or shrink, the customer and partner can plan ahead.

The Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace will have real-time, on-demand visibility for NCE promotions so partner-customers can activate new business faster and streamline purchasing, according to the distributor.

One upcoming promotion from Microsoft is called “Bridge to the Cloud 2 NCE.” Starting Wednesday, eligible Dynamics on-premises commercial customers receive 40 percent off during a three-year term when migrating to most Dynamics 365 online products licensed through an eligible, partner-led NCE subscription, according to the vendor.

The sign-up period lasts through Dec. 31, 2024.

Baez said the marketplace updates are meant in part to show partner-customers the benefits of working with a distributor as opposed to working directly with a vendor. They also reflect Ingram Micro’s investments in software to help meet partner-customers’ needs, like with the distributor’s Xvantage platform unveiled last year.

“We always need to make sure that what we can do is make the experience of going through a channel better than going direct,” Baez said. “And that in the end comes down to empowering our customers and partners to be able to offer the true set of capabilities that comes in from an indirect channel. Services, technical consulting but also managing the subscriptions.”

NCE has proven controversial with Microsoft partners due in part to a 20 percent premium added to monthly commitments to popular Microsoft products such as Microsoft 365. The premium pushes customers to annual commitments, according to partners.

Under annual commitments, partners can be liable for paying the remainder of a commitment should the partner’s customer go out of business or refuse to pay the rest of the year.

Also, customers in an annual commitment can’t leave their services provider for a new one before the end of the commitment, leading some partners to work out handshake deals to get new customers.

Likewise, partner-customers are locked with their distributor through the duration of an annual commitment.

Distributors including Ingram Micro, Pax8 and TD Synnex proved helpful to some Microsoft partners in understanding and adopting changes under NCE. Microsoft partners continue to navigate partner program changes from the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant in the form of new partner capabilities scores (PCS) used to determine partnership levels that replaced Microsoft’s long-time gold and silver classifications.

Baez told CRN that he understood that NCE brought a lot of changes at once for partner-customers – from terms and conditions to pricing to technical. He wants the marketplace updates to shift Ingram Micro from an advisory role on navigating NCE to more of an operating role with partner-customers.

“When you think about the cloud businesses of our customers, they‘ve all grown massively the number of subscriptions, so this becomes even more critical,” he said.

Baez also believes that changes to the marketplace will help with more emphasis for partners on customer consumption of Microsoft tools as the vendor experiences what its leaders have described as a temporary slowdown in new business.

“There’s no doubt that companies are going to look for channel partners to come forward with the right level of capabilities to help them manage their workloads,” Baez said.

Ingram Micro serves about 25,000 partner-customers in more than 30 countries, according to the distributor. It has plans to become a publicly traded company once again.