CSPs, Mergers and Acquisitions, IT distribution, IT management, Mergers and Acquisitions

Ingram Micro Buys Odin Cloud Automation From Parallels

Ingram Micro Cloud finally captured its golden goose. Indeed, Ingram Micro Inc. has acquired Odin from Parallels. Odin is a cloud automation platform widely used by telcos, hosting providers and Ingram Micro Cloud. It's the latest move by a distributor to control intellectual property (IP) that aggregates and manages cloud services for VARs, MSPs, hosting providers and cloud providers.

First, the big picture: Most major distributors have spent the past five to seven years evaluating various cloud strategies -- and taking incremental steps toward cloud services. The overarching goal for most distributors has been a cloud mall of sorts, allowing VARs and MSPs to source and manage dozens of third-party SaaS and IaaS packages from giants (like Microsoft) to a range of startups.

Distributor Clouds: 4 Requirements

Jason Bystrak: Distributor clouds must address four key issues…
Ingram's Jason Bystrak

What should a complete distributor cloud solution offer to channel partners? There's a four-part answer, according to Jason Bystrak, executive director of the Americas for Ingram Micro Cloud:

  • Does it do purchasing?
  • Does it do real-time provisioning?
  • Does it do service and subscription management?
  • And does it do monthly invoice management?

Bystrak described those requirements to ChannelE2E during IT Nation 2015 in November. And while Ingram Micro Cloud has leveraged Odin technology since at least 2013, the distributor is now poised to own that underlying technology -- thanks to today's announcement.

Ingram Micro Cloud: Buying Odin

Nimesh Dave, president, Ingram Micro Cloud

Indeed, Ingram Micro this morning confirmed that it's buying "certain assets" from Parallels Holdings Ltd. -- though not the overall Parallels business.

The deal includes Parallels Odin Service Automation platform along with associated cloud management technologies, intellectual property and the Odin brand. Roughly 500 Odin employees, many of whom are software engineers with cloud expertise, are expected to join Ingram Micro -- reporting up to the Ingram Micro Cloud division led by Executive VP Nimesh Dave.

On paper, it's a really smart acquisition. In recent years, rival distributors have either developed their own cloud intellectual property (example: Tech Data with TDCloud and StreamOne) or acquired the technology (example: WestconGroup BlueSky). Ingram Micro initially tried to partner on the cloud technology front, but company insiders ultimately decided it was time to own the intellectual property.

Why Odin Matters

The Odin Service Automation buyout is expected to close this month. Financial terms were not disclosed (but we're digging for them...)

Why is Odin so darn important? Consider this technology description from Ingram:

" provides a single, centralized management console for managing the offer and delivery of cloud services, and supports multiple tiers of service resellers with customizable white-labeled customer-facing websites to initiate ordering and provisioning. Odin Service Automation delivers an out-of-the-box, customizable storefront that can be linked to an existing website. It includes customer self-enrollment with built-in fraud screening, and can be configured to support custom purchase workflows. Sales-representative-assisted customer enrollment is also supported via the service provider control panel."

Ingram’s Alaine Monie

ChannelE2E asked Ingram if the company is committed to continued Odin upgrades and support of third-parties -- CSPs, hosting providers, etc. -- that leverage the technology. The reply:

"Ingram is committed to continue to invest in upgrading the Odin Services Automation Platform, to continue to support all Odin customers, and to continue to license the platform to third parties."

In a prepared statement, Ingram Micro CEO Alain Monié described just how large the potential ecosystem for Odin could be: “Together, Ingram and Odin will offer the ideal combination of expertise, knowledge and commercial relationships with leading cloud OEMs and innovators, which will enable our combined partner portfolio of 285 telcos, 4,000 hosting companies and 200,000+ resellers worldwide to thrive by lifting their customers businesses to the cloud.”

Ingram Micro Cloud: Accelerating Business

Renee Bergeron

Even before today's buyout, Ingram Micro Cloud had momentum. During the Ingram Micro ONE conference in November 2015, Monié said Ingram Micro's cloud revenues were $200 million -- small compared to traditional distribution revenues, but fast-growth and impressive compared to many pure cloud companies.

Partner adoption also has been impressive. More than 12,000 partners leverage the Ingram Micro Cloud marketplace. Those partners manage roughly 130,000 cloud seats for customers -- up 31 percent from September 2015 -- according to a ChannelE2E meeting with Renee Bergeron, VP of worldwide cloud computing, at Ingram Micro ONE.

Ingram Micro Cloud: The Long Journey

To Ingram's credit, the company has been experimenting with various cloud and managed services technologies since at least 2008. The early effort involved Ingram Micro Seismic, a services initiative designed to help transform VARs into MSPs focused on monthly recurring revenues (MRR).

Somewhere around that time, Ingram leaders also held board-level meetings to discuss a long term cloud strategy. Some of the debate involved whether to build the intellectual property in-house or to acquire it, sources say. There was even chatter about potentially buying Parallels somewhere between 2007 and 2009,  the sources add.

Gradually, Ingram rebranded Seismic around the Ingram Micro Cloud moniker. Sources say the company originally adopted Jamcracker for its underlying cloud platform technology around 2011. But that initial technology hit a performance wall, sources say, and Ingram migrated its cloud to Parallels' cloud technology -- now called Odin Service Automation platform -- in 2013, the sources add. Ingram Micro has never officially confirmed the Jamcracker deployment and abandonment to ChannelE2E.

Another key Ingram Micro move arrived in September 2013, when the company acquired SoftCom, a cloud marketplace and global service provider. Not by coincidence, SoftCom had deep expertise in the Odin technology from Parallels. And now, Ingram is set to own that underlying code.


Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.