Channel chiefs, Channel partner events, Channel partner programs, CSPs, IT distribution

Ingram Micro Transforming Into A Software Company

Renee Bergeron
Renee Bergeron

Sure, the vast majority of Ingram Micro's revenue still involves third-party hardware and software products resold through VARs and MSPs. But take a closer look, and a small but mission critical slice of Ingram's business is now software-driven. Instead of licensing the software or partnering to use the software... Ingram owns it outright.

Indeed, the software strategy hinges on Odin (acquired in 2015) and Ensim (acquired recently, though the buyout won't be official until later this month or so). By controlling underlying cloud automation and marketplace software, Ingram potentially gets a leg up against several rival distributors, some of whom partner for cloud software technology. (Though a few have intellectual property of their own.)

The company's latest software steps surfaced this morning at Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2016, which has attracted roughly 1,300 partner attendees. During a morning keynote, VP Renee Bergeron introduced:

  1. Ingram Micro Cloud Store: A partner-branded, hosted e-commerce store that directly connects to an IT service provider or MSP’s existing website. Featuring cloud services available on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace, the customizable e-storefront allows channel partners to monetize, market, and manage the sale of cloud services online, Ingram said. The platform has been available in beta over the past year. It basically gives end-customers a self-service cloud store, Bergeron told ChannelE2E off stage.
  2. Odin Automation (OA) Essentials:  This is a cloud services automation solution that allows cloud providers to provision, manage, and sell both cloud and self-hosted services through a single platform. With OA Essentials, partners can market, sell, and bundle Microsoft Office 365 and other CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) services with their existing products. Ingram says. Initially, this is for Microsoft-focused CSPs but more solutions will be added, Bergeron told ChannelE2E off stage.
  3. Ingram Micro Cloud Referral Program: A program enabling channel partners to market and sell cloud services through customized banners and links featured on their website, and fulfilled through the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace. All resulting sales and complementary services are conducted by Ingram Micro under the partner’s brand. In return, the channel partner receives a commission for the referral, Ingram said. This program basically is for resellers that don’t want to manage the cloud journey for customers, and simply want to resell services when the opportunities arrive.

Software Strategy: More Than Ingram's Cloud

So what does this mean for Ingram's partners? Actually, the very definition of partner is changing. On the one hand, VARs and MSPs can plug into Ingram's cloud. On the other hand, emerging partners like telcos, ISVs and hosting providers can leverage Ingram's cloud software outright -- in their own data centers. There are even opportunities for partners to install some of Ingram's business portals on-premises in customer data centers.

In some cases, it will be tricky for partners to understand which of Ingram's cloud and software platforms to leverage. But during this morning's keynote, Bergeron outlined a range of specific use cases for each platform. (Check in directly with Ingram for more details.)

Ingram's Cloud Software Revenue

Ingram in 2015 had about $200 million of cloud business, CEO Alain Monié said during a conference last fall. That's a tiny figure compared to Ingram's top-line revenues of $43 billion.

But consider this: Ingram's cloud revenues are growing about 100 percent annually. And the Ensim buyout wasn't included in Monié's cloud revenue estimate for 2015. Overall, the company's cloud team has about 1,500 employees -- half of which are engineers developing the company's platforms, Bergeron said.

During a surprise appearance on-stage, Monié said Ingram has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the cloud and software strategy. The old days of distribution are over, he said. New rivals will emerge -- as will new partners. He pointed to telcos as would-be rivals that will actually partner with Ingram to use Odin and other platforms.

If Ingram truly becomes a software provider to hosting companies, telcos and ISVs then then the shift beyond traditional hardware and software reselling will likely accelerate even faster...

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.