March 19, 2021
Ingram Micro Cloud continues to define new opportunities for partners under its new vice president of global cloud channel sales, Victor Baez. And that word, “opportunity,” may indeed best describe Baez’s intentions for his role.
Recall that Baez joined the distributor last August. He came from VMware, where he ran worldwide security channel sales after the Carbon Black acquisition. At Carbon Black, he served as vice president of worldwide channels. Before that, Baez worked for Microsoft and held various roles in the channel.
All that’s to say, Baez knows the indirect channel. Plus, because he holds responsibility for Ingram Micro Cloud’s global revenue, enabling partners tops his list of priorities. He aims to do that, in part, by opening geographies.
Ingram Micro’s Victor Baez
“Some countries have a partner success organization, and we’re expanding that,” Baez told Channel Futures.
Ingram Micro Cloud has yet to make an official announcement on that front. But, Baez said, the partner success effort will be extensive.
“We have pockets in a few markets, like the U.S., for example, and we’re rolling out more globally,” he said. “We’re in more than 40 countries so markets will have a deep focus on how to help partners be more successful.”
Baez will measure the depth of that success in terms of end-user activity.
“If we as an ecosystem don’t drive the right level of adoption and successful outcomes … then we’re going to miss a great opportunity,” he said. “So that is one of the big initiatives we’re driving.”
To that point, Ingram Micro Cloud is providing partners with various resources, including marketing recommendations and training tips for approaching clients. At the same time, the distributor remains focused on making sure partners have all the tools for customers. Right now, and throughout the pandemic, that means an emphasis on cloud applications and infrastructure for remote work — with a major emphasis on a key area.
Cloud Lessons Gleaned From COVID-19
“If you don’t have security, you don’t have cloud,” Baez said. “We see it that simply.”
Thus, Ingram Micro Cloud under Baez is guiding partners to layer security in every implementation. Along the way, the distributor examines “what else [partners] can do to keep their customers happy and have more profit,” Baez said. Due to COVID-19, “anything IaaS is very hot right now,” he added. “Workloads are moving at an unprecedented pace so we are doing a lot of service augmentation to help our partners capture the opportunity.”
All that cloud adoption makes 2021 “the year of CX — customer experience, customer success,” Baez said.
Partners face a lot of pressure.
“With all that we sold in the last 10, 11 months, it’s time to make sure all these technologies are being well used and managed,” Baez said. “And that goes beyond what we usually do as an ecosystem sometimes, right? Customers want to be convinced … that they’ll keep benefiting. Because that opens the door for more. If we don’t do this effectively, it closes the door for more.”
That reality is prompting inquiries from channel partners.
“Two things they always ask: ‘What are the growth opportunities and the good practices when it comes to managing my existing business?’” Baez said.
“I tell them what we’re seeing. So when you think of cloud in general, anything related to security is critical,” Baez said.
Just consider the recent, very public breaches at SolarWinds and Microsoft, as two examples. Such hacks underscore to channel partners (and their clients) the paramount importance of …
… security, Baez said. From there, resellers, managed service providers, system integrators and other partners want to know which vendors to use to protect themselves and clients. They also want to make sure they are handling infrastructure as a service correctly. It’s not always an easy task.
Provisioning Cloud Not the Same As Conducting Legacy Partner Business
“The cloud business is very different from classic business,” Baez said.
On that note, the challenges for partners vary depending on how cloud-native they are.
“The born-in-the-cloud partners are all asking, ‘How do I grow faster, more efficiently?’,” Baez said. “The ones that are transforming are asking different questions. Often they’re responding to what the customer is asking them to do. They might have felt some pain but most have adapted well.”
For now, partners of all stripes doing cloud need to keep certain trends foremost in their minds. Anything infrastructure-related, whether that looks like 100% cloud or a combination, remains in high demand, Baez said. Will that stay the case, though?
“A very big question that’s still underway is how it’s going to change as things open up,” Baez said. “The one thing that I think became super clear [during COVID-19] is that cloud is not necessarily the least expensive option … but it clearly delivers speed and efficiency that no other alternative can provide. … Cloud makes you nimble in a way you wouldn’t be otherwise. And what’s the price of being nimble? It varies across organizations. … The pandemic just made everything tenfold. … It’s going to be fascinating to see how customers and companies react across their infrastructure once things open up.”
When that happens, channel partners should take the time to go deeper with customers.
“Now that we’ve stress-tested our migration strategy and it worked … go beyond the pricing of the transaction itself,” Baez said. “Have a much broader discussion. Look at the cost of maintaining the data center, cost of staff, running a managed services center. This second wave of conversations spells even more opportunities for partners.”
That will ring especially true for partners who are skilled in cloud and stick close to their clients, Baez added.
Back to the Now: What Baez Has Learned From Partners, Changes on the Way
For now, however, Baez still is addressing more prescient issues, since much of the world remains on restriction. Over the initial months of his Ingram Micro Cloud tenure, Baez has held virtual meetings with hundreds of the company’s 20,000 partners — including those with complaints.
“I didn’t just want a rosy picture,” Baez said.
Those meetings have led to greater understanding of what partners want from the distributor. Namely, they are keen on support that translates into capabilities, Baez said.
“They feel that in order for them to grow faster, they need to augment what we do,” he said. “The quicker we provide them with services augmentation capabilities, the more successful they are.”
As a result, expect to see upgrades within Ingram Micro Cloud’s platform soon.
“Our marketplace has become so pervasive that sometimes we forget how important it is to some companies,” Baez said. “You’ll see us communicate features [and upgrades] so this very vast community can continue to make it a platform for their own success.”
While Baez couldn’t reveal the totality of enhancements on the way, he did give a peek into the changes. For one, partners will be able to manage Azure reserved instances.
“It’s a cost-effective way to approach IaaS through the platform,” Baez said. “It gives partners a whole set of telemetry they wouldn’t have otherwise, and management capabilities. It moves away from that manual process.”
Ingram Micro Cloud will keep adding to the platform, Baez said. Some upgrades will be general, while others will be product-specific. Either way, the company has one goal: to create as effortless and consolidated an experience for the channel.
That will pave the way for even more partner opportunity, Baez said.
“The third wave is to allow them to take these same capabilities and provide them directly to their customers in a white-label environment. We already have some of that but we’re going to push more.”
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