PHOENIX – Ingram Micro announced an expansion of its existing distribution deal for Microsoft’s Office 365, adding it to its Cloud Marketplace site and adding migration support and other surrounding services.
The Office 365 announcement was perhaps the biggest announcement at the company’s annual Cloud Summit conference here, offering partners a new way to offer, provision, and manage one of the biggest channel products in the cloud.
Renee Bergeron, vice president of worldwide cloud computing at Ingram Micro, announced the new development in the distributor’s cloud relationship with Microsoft during a keynote at the event, saying it makes Ingram Micro “the only Microsoft two-tier partner who can provision, managed, and invoice Office 365 in real-time.”
The promise is the ability for solution providers to manage their customers’ Office 365 including managing subscriptions and deployment, and consolidating billing, even if that billing includes other Ingram Micro services (the distributor’s own offerings or other Cloud Marketplace offerings) as well as solution providers’ own services offerings.
The new relationship is possible because of Ingram’s Cloud Marketplace and Microsoft’s move to a Cloud Service Provider model, the latest development in the ever-expanding presence of Office 365 in the channel. Initially offered on an advisor basis, the company then moved to Office 365 Open, which allowed solution providers to own the billing relationship, but still looked a lot like a “traditional” software licensing deal to a solution provider.
Judson Althoff, president of Microsoft North America, told attendees that Ingram has been “pushing us towards this Marketplace for a long time.”
“I have to give credit where credit is due – this is the most innovative marketplace we’ve ever seen,” Althoff told attendees, adding that through the invoicing statements offered through the Cloud Service Provider, partners get “a monthly statement of value” they can present to their customers, supporting Bergeron’s call for more cloud-centric partners to focus on value-based pricing rather than the more familiar “cost plus” model.
“We want to enable you to do the not-so-fund stuff very quickly and efficiently, and then have that managed service interaction that helps customers understand the value they’re getting out of it,” Althoff said. “We want to enable you to have that lifecycle relationship with your customers. Then the fun stuff happens.”
The new Cloud Marketplace Office 365 offering also includes the opportunity for partners to bundle surrounding services, including SkyKick’s real-time Office 365 migration service, as well as options for Ingram-provided L1 and L2 post-sales support.
Jason Bystrak, executive director for North American cloud at Ingram Micro, said that bundling capability re-creates the ability for solution providers to add value by building out a solution around Microsoft products that is very familiar to many partners, and to many vendors as well.
“We have a dialogue with other partners in the portfolio about how they can ride that Microsoft horse with us, just like the [Windows] platform,” Bystrak said. “Office 365 is going to do the same thing in the Cloud Marketplace. It will drag security solutions and other applications. It’s a couple of clicks, and you’ve got a bundle.”
Office 365 has certainly been Microsoft’s crown jewels in its transfer to what new CEO Satya Nadella calls the “mobile-first, cloud-first” world, and Bystrak said that since Ingram Micro started offering the online application suite in January 2014, it has consistently doubled sequentially quarter after quarter.