Ingram’s SoftCom buy paying cloud dividends

Ingram Micro's Renee Bergeron

Ingram Micro cloud and managed services chief Renée Bergeron

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. – Anyone who wondered last fall just want distribution giant Ingram Micro was looking for when it acquired Toronto-based SoftCom got some answers at the distributor’s annual Cloud Summit here Tuesday morning.

Ingram announced it was purchasing SoftCom, which does Web hosting and a variety of other services, last September. And the ramifications of the deal play heavily in the announcements Ingram is making at the event here.

Based largely on the offerings and skillsets of SoftCom, Renée Bergeron, vice president of worldwide cloud at Ingram Micro, introduced three new Ingram-branded cloud services into the company’s cloud marketplace: Hosted Exchange, Virtual Private Server, and Web hosting.

“They’ve brought us best practices as a cloud service provider, and unique expertise in terms of e-commerce,” Bergeron said of the acquisition.

The three new services join an Ingram-hosted unified communications offering based on Cisco’s HCS, introduced at last year’s Cloud Summit, on the Ingram-branded portion of its cloud service line card.

Later in her presentation, Bergeron singled out Softcom founder and CEO Turker Sokullu, recently introduced as the distributor’s global vice president of cloud platform and product design, for his role in distributor’s new global cloud organization. Sokullu, she said, has been “instrumental in building a team of top-notch engineers and leading the cloud vision,” and “relentless in adding functionality” to the distributor’s cloud marketplace.

The purchase is impacting Ingram as it sees a shift – its cloud business is not only becoming a key differentiator for it, it’s going worldwide. Just last week, Bergeron, who had headed up the Ingram’s cloud efforts in North America, was named global cloud czar for the distributor, part of a broader move to embrace cloud worldwide. In fact, from now on, Bergeron said the group’s goal would be to launch worldwide services.

“Your customers may demand you support them in other geographies” as cloud makes physical location of an employee or resource – or solution provider – less important than ever before, Bergeron told attendees.

Speaking on a panel of cloud CEO’s later in the morning, Ingram CEO Alain Monie said the distributor sees the move towards the cloud leading an unprecedented flood of new vendors into the technology marketplace, and that trend is accelerating. And most of them are finding what traditional tech vendors found out long ago – for most to succeed in the midmarket and SMB spaces, they will need to build strong networks of solution providers to be their companies’ feet on the street. According to Ingram data shared by Bergeron, the channel has a major impact on customer satisfaction with cloud services. Inudstry-wide, annual customer attrition rates from cloud services are about 15 per cent, and for cloud services purchased by businesses direct via e-commerce, that figure soars to between 30 and 40 per cent. But introduce a channel partner into the equation, and the attrition rate is cut off dramatically, to just five per cent.

The landscape is changing for the distributor itself too. Monie, taking a look into the crystal ball, said that he sees new competition in the cloud not coming from its traditional distribution rivals, but from new types of competitors, most likely “born in the cloud” aggregation services.