Channel partner programs, CSPs

Ingram Micro Odin: Cloud Services Surprises Beyond Microsoft Azure

Jason Bystrak
Jason Bystrak

Perhaps I need to eat some cloud services crow. When Ingram Micro acquired Odin (a cloud automation platform) from Parallels in December 2015, I knew the move would be good for Ingram Micro Cloud. But I quietly wondered if the Ingram purchase would trigger an inflection point for thousands of Odin partners.

My unspoken thesis went something like this. I figured the distributor would make proprietary Odin enhancements for the company's own cloud. MSPs and VARs plugging into Ingram Cloud certainly would celebrate. But I also wondered if the distributor would quietly struggle with -- or abandon -- licenses to more than 4,000 hosting providers and telcos that ran Odin for their own cloud services.

Boy was I wrong. Indeed, Ingram has delivered a steady stream of Odin enhancements for partners worldwide. The platform will generate plenty of additional chatter at Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2017, which is set for April. So what's new with Odin? Jason Bystrak, executive director of the Americas, Ingram Micro Cloud, shared some insights with ChannelE2E during CompTIA Annual Member Meeting in Chicago last week.

Among Bystrak's insights: Keep an eye out for the latest Odin Automation Premium upgrade, which features:

  • IoT and New Digital Services Management: End-to-end subscription and catalog management for IoT, cloud and telco core or custom services, Ingram says.
  • APS Connect: This is a cloud-based service integration automation tool, which allows partners to design, test and publish integrations in just a few clicks, Ingram asserts.
  • Federated Marketplace: Here, service providers can access Ingram Micro Cloud's catalog of ISVs and cloud offerings -- rather than negotiating with each ISV for specific cloud services, the company says.
  • Business Intelligence: A new BI module enables service providers to consolidate and analyze customer data, Ingram Asserts.

Odin Automation Essentials

Also, keep track of Odin Automation Essentials, which is extending from its Office 365 heritage to support Azure services. Ingram shared some Odin Automation Essentials enhancement details on March 27. That offering, according to the distributor, marks an important shift for partners:

  • Historically, service providers spent days or weeks trying to purchase, resell and deliver cloud services while agents had to establish various contractual relationships, design provisioning and management processes, and integrate third-party billing, payment and support systems, Ingram claims.
  • Odin Automation Essentials eliminates all these time-consuming tasks so providers can install and deploy a comprehensive and scalable automation platform with a powerful online, integrated storefront in just a few hours, Ingram asserts.

The upgrade supports Microsoft cloud services like Azure, Office 365, Dynamics 365, Enterprise Mobility Suite and Windows 10 Enterprise licenses. Other capabilities include fully automated order intake, billing and invoicing, payment processing, configuration and provisioning modules, Ingram says.

How Odin Differentiates Ingram

The Odin upgrades arrive at a key time for Ingram Micro and its service provider ecosystem. Multiple distributors have launched their own cloud marketplaces. Some of the distributor industry launches leverage third-party cloud automation software. Other distributor industry launches leverage acquired or home-grown code.

No doubt, the competitive landscape is shifting in multiple ways. Tech Data, for instance, now owns Avnet Technology Services. That means Tech Data will need to coordinate and/or consolidate their respective cloud platforms. Meanwhile, Synnex seems to have growing momentum with CloudSolv --  which promotes third-party services like Microsoft Office 365, Google G Suite (particularly for education) and Docker.

Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services is becoming a software reseller of sorts. For instance, AWS Marketplace now manages SaaS billing for third-party software purchases. The net result: Customers can now gain a single bill — from Amazon Web Services — that displays metered usage for dozens of third-party applications.

While those competitive moves are worth noting, Ingram's penchant for delivering Odin upgrades -- both internally and externally to service providers -- remains impressive.

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.