Distie Report: Can a distributor be a cloud provider?

Las Vegas – Ingram Micro (NYSE: IM) took the bold move this week at the SMB Alliance conference, held here, to say they can help solution providers solve the cloud mystery for customers.

Here is the legitimate question: Can a distributor, with a core competency of logistics and pick, pack and ship, be a cloud aggregator; which is what they are striving to become?

I’m sure the marketplace is skeptical? But if you really think about Ingram’s role, as the biggest broadline distributor in the world, the thing they have that lets say Amazon Web Services or Rackspace doesn’t have is global reach. I mean real reach. Like on the ground with human beings kind of reach. Not a virtual world kind of presence but actually there in places like Asia Pac, Europe, the middle east, South America and north of the 49th parallel.

I think with this kind of presence they have a legitimate shot at becoming cloud provider to many solution providers.

The SMB Alliance for example has just shy of 3,000 members in North America of which 700 are based in Canada. This group does more than $2.5 billion in revenue, but forget about that for one moment. The SMB Alliance also has 50 vendor partners. Ingram leverages this group for expertise to help solution providers solve tough cloud problems or provide support staff on bigger projects.

As far as content goes for cloud solutions who better than a distributor who deals with basically everyone to piece all of that together for the solution providers. Of course publications such as CDN can do the same thing, but I digress.

Many solution providers I spoke to at this event told me that they are here to validate their own cloud solutions with other channel partners. Isn’t this a form of aggregation? Ingram has proven in the past with groups such as Venture Tech that they can bring solution providers together for a common good; even rival solution providers from the same city.

For example, SherWeb is part of the Ingram Cloud marketplace only because a solution provider told Canadian GM Mark Snider, who told North American chief Paul Bay and then after a due diligence process became a part of the Ingram cloud program. I’m not sure Amazon or Rackspace can do this.

The other thing Ingram has going for it in this cloud journey is Renee Bergeron, the distributor’s cloud champion. The loss of Justin Crotty to NetEnrich was a big loss, but Bergeron has not skipped a beat in furthering the distributor’s cause and plan for the cloud and the channel.

So while the company hasn’t fully answered the question, this conference is a major step in proving to the market place that yes a distributor can become a cloud provider.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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