Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS) announced Friday that it was naming Ingram Micro (NYSE: IM) as the preferred vendor for its entire line of products sold through distribution in North America. At the same time, Citrix announced it would be discontinuing its distribution relationships with its other North America distribution partners, namely Tech Data, Alternative Technology and Avnet, as of August 30th. Effectively, the announcements make Ingram the sole current distribution partner for Citrix.
Craig Stilwell, vice-president, Americas marketing and sales support for Citrix Systems, says scaling-back to one distribution partner is an “emotional thing” for Citrix, as partners like Alternative Technology have played an important role in getting Citrix to where it is today. However, he says at this time the benefits and attention that Ingram can bring to the company and its partners as a preferred distributor outweigh the risks of Citrix putting all its virtualization eggs into one distributor basket.
“We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with (Ingram), and the decision is really about providing focus and additional benefits into our Citrix partner channel,” said Stilwell.
Those benefits are already starting to flow with two new Citrix-branded programs from Ingram to support partner enablement. As the one distributor that was carrying the entire Citrix product line, Stilwell adds Ingram was uniquely positioned to bring all the partners together under one umbrella and support them better with more resources and attention.
From a numbers perspective, Stilwell says of the 1900 Citrix partners just 120, or less than 10 per cent, did not already have a relationship with Ingram, although many were dealing with multiple distributors. In Canada, he says all 166 Citrix partners have accounts with Ingram already. Also, in Canada he notes Citrix’s relationship with Tech Data ended some years ago; here Alternative Technology was its only other distributor.
Representatives from Tech Data Canada and Alternative Technology declined to comment on the Citrix decision. However, in a March interview with CDN, Ken Watkins, Alternative Technology’s country manager for Canada, said virtualization has become an important business for the distie in Canada, stressing the certifications of its sales associates with both VMware and Citrix.
Recognizing partner concerns around financing, Citrix’s Stilwell notes the vendor has been working with Ingram to ensure the distributor adjusts credit facilities to reflect partners moving more business through the distributor,and he’s confident it won’t be an issue.
“No doubt there’s at least some (concern) out there, an all the eggs in one basket kind of thing, but we’ve working with Ingram for a long time,” said Stilwell. “They’re very committed to us, now more that ever, and they have every incentive to make sure our business grows.”
That’s because while Ingram is now effectively Citrix’s only North American distributor, if Ingram doesn’t produce results it won’t necessarily stay that way.
“Although they’re our only distributor right now there’s no exclusive agreement between the two companies,” said Stilwell. “If things don’t go well there’s nothing stopping us from bringing in more companies. The ball is in (Ingram’s) court.”
Michael Gazdic, vice-president of vendor management with Ingram Micro Canada, says Citrix has been a key Citrix partner in Canada for some time and is a quality vendor in the virtualization space.
“It’s a terrific partnership,” said Gazdic. “We recognized there’s a real opportunity to grow the relationship.”
As part of the preferred distributor announcement Ingram and Citrix launched two new partner enablement programs as part of a move by Ingram to increase its Citrix-certified technical, sales ans marketing support.
The first is the the Ingram Micro-Citrix Smart Enablement Program, which will reward partners with credits that can be redeemed to obtain Citrix-specific marketing and training from Ingram.
The second program, focusing on end-user enablement, will not be available in Canada, but Gazdic says Ingram is investing in its Citrix partner base in Canada in other ways to meet its growth targets for the new relationship.
“It’s really a question of how we’ve been working with Citrix in terms of our long-term partnership. We’ve worked hard to strengthen the relationship so we can do more with their partners, and ours as well,” said Gazdic. “We will work even more closely with these partners to drive more Citrix business.”