It’s time for the annual Ingram Micro Cloud Summit, the company’s seventh.
This year’s conference opens with a flurry of announcements. First some backdrop.
The theme for this year’s event is “Where Rainmakers Thrive,” which is ironic since we are in the desert this year, Phoenix to be exact. But maybe it’s appropriate. I mean, who would have thought six years ago that a broadline distributor would attract more than 1,000 VARs, MSP, service providers and consultants to a cloud technology event?
But this is where we find ourselves, at a packed Ingram (NYSE: IM) gathering with enthusiasm and momentum building. Microsoft is here. So is Dropbox, RingCentral and many others.
Ingram’s stated goal is to offer new cloud delivery platforms that make it easier for “channel partners to establish and grow their cloud services business by removing barriers such as web development costs, sales and marketing resources, and in-depth expertise of cloud computing solutions and services.”
“The really big new is the expansion of our strategy as it relates to our platform capabilities,” says Jason Bystrak, Executive Director at Ingram Micro. Take the Cloud Marketplace, which is the distributor’s customizable, electronic storefront for cloud services. Ingram launched the Marketplace in June 2014. It’s the transactional engine for any Ingram Micro partner interested in purchasing, provisioning, managing and invoicing multi-vendor cloud solutions. While a success, the company has pined to offer more. Thanks to the acquisition of the Odin Services Automation technology, which Ingram acquired from Parallels in December 2015, it now can. With the Odin technology, Ingram can offer new ways to help partners transact and operationalize cloud.
Here’s a snapshot of the new offers that Ingram is showcasing in Phoenix this week. First up: the Ingram Micro Cloud Store.
Ingram Micro Cloud Store: Imagine a place on your web site that offers your customers virtually every technology service imaginable. Welcome to the new Ingram Micro Cloud Store. Unlike the Cloud Marketplace, the Ingram Micro Cloud Store is partner-branded. With it, you can offer your customers a hosted e-commerce shopping experience. It offers the entire Ingram catalog of cloud services available on the Cloud Marketplace. Nifty and efficient.
Odin Automation (OA) Essentials: Ingram also unveiled this set of cloud services automation solutions that help cloud providers provision, manage and sell cloud and self-hosted services. This is a software solution that partners host themselves, not Ingram. As a result, all customer data resides with partners, not the distributor. “With OA Essentials, partners can easily market, sell, and bundle Microsoft Office 365 and other CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) services with their existing products, while maintaining full control of the e-commerce store from integration with existing provisioning systems to deploying custom domain and payment plugin options,” according to the company.
Ingram Micro Cloud Referral Program: Aimed at consultants and telco agents, this is a new program that essentially paves the way for partners to sell cloud services to customers that will be managed by Ingram. This includes billing, provisioning and more. Partners receive a commission for the business they send to Ingram, which will then manage follow-up sales and complementary services on behalf of its partners. If this sounds like the groundwork for an eventual plan by Ingram to start catering directly to customers, it isn’t I am assured. I asked Bystrak directly and he said emphatically, “no.” This is all done on behalf of a partner, who can send a custom URL to customers and hand over the billing to Ingram, he says.
In addition to these announcements, Ingram is also showcasing consolidated billing services and other capabilities this week in Phoenix. Rolled out in March, the capability helps partners simplify their customer billing and level out their cash flow.
“The big message is we are giving partners more flexibility to sell cloud services the way that best suits their business model,” says Bystrak.
Finally, Ingram has also added nine new offerings to the Cloud Marketplace from BitTitan, Microsoft (Azure, Office 365 for Government), Dropbox, SiteLock, Dropmysite, Yola, IDsync and Acronis.