Ingram Micro Details White Label and Referral Programs, Plus New Services

**Editor’s Note: Click here for our recently compiled list of new products and services that partners can sell.**

INGRAM MICRO CLOUD SUMMIT — On Tuesday in Hollywood, Fla., Ingram Micro provided additional details on its expanded Cloud Referral, Cloud Resale, and Cloud Private Label programs, plus additional information on new support options for its cloud partners.

In a keynote presentation, Renee Bergeron, vice president worldwide cloud, Ingram Micro, set the tone for the event with advice for value selling, new options for assembling solutions and promises of greater support for those who do not currently resell cloud solutions.

Bergeron began her remarks by bemoaning the difficulty of bringing clients into the cloud. A typical cloud proposal with five or more services could cost a partner upward of $80,000, she said. Rather than waste time and energy cobbling proposals together, she insisted that there is a better way to get customers moving at “the speed of cloud.”

How? By working with a partner that has access to technology from all the layers of the solutions stack, starting with infrastructure, and all the way up the stack to include security, communications and then, finally, business applications for CRM, billing and accounting, she said.

To emphasize the robustness of the Ingram Micro cloud portfolio, she showed a slide of more than 70 partners that provide more than 200 solutions, each of which has gone through rigorous testing. All of these can be ordered and provisioned today, Bergeron said. “There’s no need to negotiate contracts with each provider; you just negotiate with Ingram, complete with channel discounts,” she added.

As part of her presentation, she showcased several new relationships that Ingram Micro has established and announced in a press release earlier Tuesday. The new relationships included 365 Main, Charter, Logix, Skykick, Softlayer and SurePayroll.

She also showcased three new cloud services hosted by Ingram, including Ingram Micro Hosted Exchange, Ingram Micro Virtual Private Server and Ingram Micro Web Hosting.

In an interview afterward, Bergeron said Ingram Micro is working hard to, “ensure that our customers have the right solutions for their customers, every time.”

Put more bluntly, “No distribution company has made the investments, commitments and decisions that solutions providers will need to satisfy their customers that Ingram Micro has,” said Nimesh Davé, executive vice president of Global Business Process at Ingram Micro. “This is what sets up apart from our competitors.”

To echo his sentiments, Davé showed a video during the keynote presentation Tuesday featuring a partner from Fargo, N.D.-based NetWork Center Inc., whose president is Ben Carlsrud. He outlined the many ways that Ingram Micro has helped his company satisfy customers’ needs for cloud solutions.

“Everyone knows everyone [in Fargo] and so you have to deliver,” Carlsrud said in the video. Leveraging the capabilities that Ingram Micro has created, “rather than reinventing the wheel, cuts down time, expanse and pain,” he said.

After outlining the foundation of Ingram Micro’s cloud services, Bergeron turned to the ways the company is helping partners build vertical market solutions on top of this infrastructure. “Most of our resellers come from a VAR background and leverage a cost-plus [pricing model],” she said.

She says that partners would be better off with a different approach when selling cloud solutions to customers.

“Value-based pricing is a better way,” Bergeron said. “When you start talking to customers about value realization, you open up a whole new dialogue. You’re no longer selling to uniquely IT departments, but also business leaders” who want deeper and richer business conversations.

After explaining Ingram Micro’s sales framework, she turned her focus to the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace, where much of the company’s engagement with cloud partners will occur. To help frame the conversation, she introduced Birger Steen, CEO of Parallels. Ingram Micro has struck a deep partnership with Parallels, including a financial stake, and will leverage the company’s technology power the next generation of its Marketplace platform.

“Parallels started 14 years ago with the premise that IT should not live in closets of IT customers,” Birger said on stage Tuesday. Back then, he said, the forerunners to cloud providers were application service providers (ASPs). He said early experiences with ASPs taught Parallels that cloud services would not be delivered in an effective way by one, two or three big companies, but many instead.

“Solutions must be horizontally scaled and vertically and locally and personally relevant,” said Steen. From his perspective, the alliance between his company and Ingram represented the “bringing together of two world leaders.”

To help partners make the transition from on-premises equipment sales to cloud service sales, Ingram Micro unveiled three new services that help partners with technical sales engineering, migration and on-boarding, and level-two technical support calls. The level-two services that the company will provide will actually be a service desk that sits between partners and vendors.

As previously reported, the company also added two new programs while expanding options for cloud resellers.

For resellers, Ingram Micro is now offering partners its billing engine to help streamline customer management. Moreover, the company will offer a Cloud Referral Program for those who do not want to build a full-blown, cloud practice, but instead merely want to monetize opportunities that come their way. Also new: an enhanced program designed specifically for qualifying “born-in-the-cloud” partners who want to white label Ingram Micro services.

In addition to the news provided on stage, Channel Partners captured some remarks from other speaks and attendees at the event. Here’s what some had to say on Tuesday:

  • Invoking novelist George Moore, Founder and Chairman Terry Jones offered some inspirational words on innovation and what it takes to produce it. “The world wants geniuses, but it wants them to behave just like other people,” he shared. His advice to partners: Hire orthogonal thinkers and keep naysayers away from them. “Rock stars want to hang out with other rock stars,” said Jones, and “negative people don’t like innovation nor belong anywhere near it.’
  • “If partners are good at something, they tend to run out of it.” So says Greg Richey, director of professional services at Ingram Micro. He was hired six months ago to develop ideas that Ingram Micro could offer to partners to help them when their bandwidth is drained. A former reseller himself, he knows firsthand that partners lose deals when they don’t have the ability to scale the very thing customers want from them most.
  • Big Data can help you: If you do big business with Ingram Micro, there’s a chance someone there in data analytics may know about your customers than you. By matching sales records with Dunn & Bradstreet profiles, Ingram Micro can create a very broad view of a customer’s buying habits — broader, in many instances, than a typical solution provider who sells to it. Kirk Robinson, senior vice president of commercial markets and global accounts at the company, says Ingram Micro’s team of number crunchers are helping partners better understand opportunities that they may be missing. “Big data can pay big dividends for partners,” he said.
  • Don’t worry about customers who buy cloud services directly from cloud vendors: As much as 60 percent of customers today have purchased at least one cloud service directly from a cloud provider that bypasses the channel. It’s not as big a cause for alarm that you might think, said Parallels CMO John Zanni. Once organizations start using more than a few cloud services, oversight becomes unmanageable. Add on security, compliance and scalability concerns, and customers inevitably will turn to a trusted advisor for support he says. No wonder he likes the deal his company made with Ingram Micro to help support its Cloud Marketplace. “We think it’s very promising,” he says.

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