Ingram Micro: Talking Loudest About Distribution & the Cloud

It's still early in the cloud computing game. And most distributors are still sorting out their strategies. But The VAR Guy has spent plenty of time this year speaking with most of the major distributors about their cloud and SaaS plans. The VAR Guy's opinion: Ingram Micro seems to be spending more time, money and energy on the cloud effort than its rivals. But will Ingram's investments pay dividends? Hmmm... Here are the facts and insights that shaped The VAR Guy's opinion.

First, a timely update: Ingram Micro today launched Ingram Micro Cloud, a marketplace and portal where VARs and MSPs can discuss SaaS and cloud opportunities and source third-party applications. Renee Bergeron, VP of managed services and cloud computing for Ingram Micro North America, discussed the Ingram Micro Cloud strategy in this MSPmentor FastChat Video:

The Bigger Picture

Admittedly, Ingram Micro's cloud efforts remain a work in progress. But so far, Ingram seems to be more aggressive on the cloud computing front than many of its rival distributors. Consider some of these data points:
  • More than 1,000 partners already participate in Ingram Micro Seismic, which helps to transform VARs into MSPs. The Seismic partners already understand recurring revenues, so they're prime candidates for Ingram's cloud efforts. Also, Ingram Micro hosted a cloud computing conference in June 2010, announcing relationships with Rackspace, Amazon and
  • Avnet Technology Solutions has serious momentum in multiple vertical markets and technology markets. Branded SolutionsPath offerings like HealthPath, GovPath, StoragePath and SecurePath help VARs to target key opportunities. But so far, Avnet's cloud strategy hinges mostly on virtualization as a stepping stone, The VAR Guy believes.
  • Tech Data CEO Bob Dutkowsky has mostly downplayed the cloud, focusing most of his attention instead on the consumerization of IT. He's focusing heavily on mobile devices that will increasingly tap data center resources. And Tech Data has quietly launched some SaaS applications in Europe, leveraging software from Parallels.
  • Synnex continues to build its On Demand strategy, which includes a managed services component. Amy Luby, the former CEO of MSP Services Network, is working closely with Synnex on the effort. And CEO Kevin Murai has been calling on partners to focus on Cloud Computing, though The VAR Guy hasn't heard any major cloud momentum out of Synnex yet.

It's Only the Third Inning

If cloud computing was a nine-inning game, The VAR Guy estimates distributors are only in the third inning. In the first, distributors assisted resellers with virtualization. In the second, distributors focused on managed services. Both of those efforts helped to prepare MSPs and VARs for the current cloud computing ballgame.

Overall, it seems like Ingram Micro is the most vocal, most active distributor on the cloud front. But plenty of questions remain. During the ConnectWise IT Nation conference last week, plenty of VARs and MSPs asked how distributors hoped to profit in the cloud market when Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Rackspace offer such aggressive pricing and don't really have much wiggle room on margins. In fact, The VAR Guy hears, some major SaaS companies are declining to work with distributors because sorting out the margin discussion seems too complex.

Still, plenty of smart people are working on distributor cloud strategies. Both Tech Data and Synnex are hosting partner conferences this week in Las Vegas. The VAR Guy wonders: Can we expect more cloud chatter from those events? Our resident blogger will be listening closely...

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