Ingram Micro Puts Spotlight On As-A-Service Opportunities

Ingram Micro is stepping up its as-a-service game to help solution providers transition their business models to one in which they're delivering business outcomes -- not just deploying technology, said Paul Bay, Ingram Micro's executive vice president and Americas group president.

"It's about us being able to show up and provide as-a-service for a total solution as opposed to just a product set or the professional services," Bay told CRN. "[Channel partners are] looking at as-a-service opportunities to create that recurring revenue base [and they need us] to provide our own services on top of the products and services that are coming from the manufacturers. And we're able to help tie all of that together and provide a single source to have that."

Along with providing the technology base, Ingram Micro provides new financing models that make it profitable for solution providers to bring the new services to customers.

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These include flexible leasing options that bundle IT services and solutions into a consolidated monthly invoice, Hardware-as-a-Service and Hardware-as-a-Rental offerings, and full or partial funding for recurring revenue model engagements.

Ingram Micro's bundling of assessment services helps put the spotlight on new opportunities, said Alan McDonald, president and CEO of All Connected, a Simi Valley, Calif.-based solution provider and provider of disaster recovery, data center, networking and security services.

"Ingram Micro helps aggregate multiple cloud services under one support and billing platform, simplifying our ongoing management, billing and support relationships," McDonald said. "If we had to have 10 or 15 different organizations present us with invoices as we expand our services, it would become difficult."

Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Corus360, said Ingram Micro works closely with the Atlanta-based solution provider on the monthly transaction and payment process for as-a-service offerings, and keeps close track of customer satisfaction.

"Ingram Micro is important when it comes to as-a-service offerings," Johnson told CRN. "They tell us their expectations, and how to make money, and then go to market with us."

Johnson cited as an example the distributor's Cisco Collaboration Suite-as-a-Service, which features video, voice, Spark and WebEx as a service with one monthly bill. "It's a lot of work to get customers to buy into it," he said. "It's a big offering."

Eric Kohl, Ingram Micro's vice president of security and networking, used the distributor's Security-as-a-Service offering as an example of the importance it places on as-a-service models. Ingram Micro breaks its security sales cycle into six parts, each of which can be part of a move to turn security into a service, Kohl told CRN.

The first is training, where Ingram Micro provides partners with the capabilities they need to deliver security as a service, he said.

The second involves pre-sales professional services, including assessments such as simulated attacks and penetration testing. "These assessments help drive demand and sales, and can be on a one-time or ongoing revenue stream basis," Kohl said.

The third is operations, which helps partners lower the costs of implementing multivendor solutions, and enablement, in which Ingram Micro can help partners build a more beneficial relationship with their vendors.

The fourth is new ways to pay for and deploy security as a service, including managed services or Hardware-as-a-Service, a cloud marketplace, and using the public cloud for Infrastructure-as-a-Service deployments, Kohl said.

In this area, Ingram Micro shows its true value, he said. "Partners come to Ingram Micro to look at the environment with an eye on cross-selling and upselling to increase client security," he said.

The fifth is post-sales services, something Ingram Micro does with programs like Ingram Micro Link, which helps solution providers reach out to peers who can provide them with capabilities they don't currently have.

The sixth is managed services, where Ingram Micro makes its own security operations center available as a service to partners who find building their own too expensive, Kohl said.

"We believe that by offering services, you can be a better partner to your customer," he said. "And Ingram Micro makes sure you have offerings in all categories of the sales cycle."