Ingram Micro tackles channel IaaS opportunity

Renee Bergeron, senior vice president of global cloud channel at Ingram Micro

Renee Bergeron, senior vice president of global cloud channel at Ingram Micro

PHOENIX, AZ — Calling Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) the “biggest untapped opportunity” in the cloud for channel partners, Ingram Micro used its Cloud Summit event here this week to debut a series of new tools, platforms, and products to help tackle that opportunity.

It’s not hard to see why Ingram calls it an untapped opportunity. Renee Bergeron, senior vice president of global cloud channel at Ingram, said that while 55 per cent of cloud revenue involves solution providers in some way, when one looks at IaaS, that number plummets to 20 per cent.

A lot of that gap has is due to the fact that IaaS is more complex — to price, sell, invoice, design and implement — than has been SaaS. As a result, the channel, Ingram included, has gravitated towards cloud-based software subscriptions and implementations.

Nimesh Davé, Ingram Micro executive vice president of global cloud

Nimesh Davé, Ingram Micro executive vice president of global cloud

That complexity has also manifested itself in another way, added Nimesh Davé, Ingram’s executive vice president of global cloud. Any third party is dependent on APIs to connect to IaaS systems, and Davé said that until recently, those APIs were either not present, or not well developed.

“If you look at AWS multi-tier APIs, at Azure CSP APIs, these have become very mature. But this time last year, it was still pretty painful,” Davé noted.

At Cloud Summit, the company introduced a series of new technology tools, training supports and programs to help partners tackle IaaS opportunities.

Perhaps the biggest tool in Ingram’s IaaS quiver is the new Cloud Orchestrator, a tool that will help partners deploy workloads across a variety of public and private cloud infrastructures, including Azure, AWS, IBM BlueMix, and VMWare. On stage, the distributor demonstrated using Cloud Orchestrator to stand up a new cloud-based WordPress implementation in an advertised 22 seconds — and ended up with 10 seconds to spare.

As well as making it easier for partners to manage their customers’ IaaS-based applications across a variety of platforms, Bergeron said using Cloud Orchestrator helps address customer concerns with cloud lock-in, since it supports running the same workload on a variety of platforms.

“It’s a multi-cloud management platform that enables organizations to develop and deploy workoads in any public or private environment, and it helps our channel partners with flexible deployment,” Bergeron said.

Cloud Orchestrator is available to cloud service providers using the company’s Odin Automation Premium platform today, and will be available to channel partners using Cloud Marketplace (itself based on Odin) by the end of this quarter, the company said. Use of Orchestrator will be free of charge for solution providers as long as they’re purchasing their infrastructure services through the distributor.

While deployment and management are important, Bergeron stressed that the distributor will support partners across “the whole lifecycle” of cloud applications, detailing a nine-step approach that encompasses partner recruitment and training, demand generation, technology discovery, consultation and proposal, through to deployment, operations, and ongoing management.

One of the highlighted tools for supporting IaaS partners include Easy Azure, a series of pre-packaged services for the most common Azure-based workloads. Each Easy Azure bundle includes blueprints, step-by-step instructions for standing up the application, and how-to videos.

Building on that, Bergeron said the company will offer one-click solutions to stand up Azure-based virtual machines later this quarter, with applications including web hosting, backup and recovery, and database.

For partners looking to stand up their own cloud-based data centres, Ingrma offers a toolkit called Infrastructure Your Way, with the ability connect to various Ingram-offered services to round out the offering, including discovery and migration tools, multi-cloud connections, cost management, reporting and analytics, as well as security management.

Greg Onoprijenko, director of cloud at Ingram Micro Canada

Greg Onoprijenko, director of cloud at Ingram Micro Canada

Greg Onoprijenko, Ingram’s director of cloud for Canada, said the IaaS push is well-timed for the Canadian market. As is the case with many new technology and business concepts, IaaS adoption in Canada lags that of the U.S. market, but Onoprijenko believes that gap is closing, particularly with the arrival of public cloud giants Microsoft and Amazon Web Services over the last year with in-country cloud data centres.

“The U.S. is already taking off, and with the launch of those data centres, with the right tools, the right expertise, and the right approach, you’re going to see a big spike in interest here in Canada,” Onoprijenko said. “We have the ability to help partners fill their gaps.”

Onoprijenko said the company’s early-days strategy is to identify partners with both the interest and ability in making investment in building an IaaS practice, and going deep with those partners. The company is serious about the opportunity out there, and is currently looking to hire a specialist in the area to help those partners build their businesses in the area.

“IaaS is the area we’ll spend the most time and effort on over next 12 to 24 months,” Onoprikenko said.

On a global scale, the distributor reports that IaaS is already starting its rise in the channel. Davé said the company is seeing “a significant number of deals across the globe,” and that in some cases, the size of the deals it’s seeing is expanding, including in the last quarter the company’s largest-ever Azure deal in the channel, a $3.6 million (U.S.) deal encompassing north of 100 Azure-based virtual machines.

“These are productions workloads for sizable customers,” Bergeron added. “And as the tools et out there, and we take away the fear, it will snowball from there.”