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Ingram Micro to focus on cloud, networking, security and virtualization in the SMB

Broadline distributor is going where the money is

Ingram Micro (NYSE: IM) is always a good barometer for trends and each year the big broadline distributor puts out a list of top trends for its solution provider customers.

This year Ingram is putting the spotlight on the SMB. At its Fall 2010 Partner Connections Summit in Tucson, Ariz., Ingram told attendees that cloud computing, networking, security, and virtualization will be the big market opportunities in the SMB.

Okay, I know this doesn’t say much because cloud, networking, security and virtualization are practices that the channel are already into pretty deep. But, it’s what Ingram is doing away from their partners that’s more interesting.

The company also announced just for the U.S. market two new divisions: the Ingram Micro Advanced Technology and Advanced Computing Divisions. Both in my mind squarely put the interests of the distributor in the mid-market. For example, these two units are intended to deliver greater opportunity, specialization and business value to channel partners who market, sell and support higher-end technology solutions and services. Notice the words: “higher end.” That is mid-market. Is Ingram telling the channel that it wants to play in the mid-space of the SMB?

I think it’s because lets face it, there’s more money to be made in the mid-tier than the in small on top-end technologies such as cloud, virtualization and networking. And, from many analysts point of view the cloud will hit the small business market maybe in 2012. So this to me means that Ingram is positioning itself for business in the mid-market simply because that’s where they see growth. This doesn’t mean they will ignore the small business market. They’re just following the money.

Furthering this move, Ingram announced it will be leveraging its advanced networking and security expertise and programs in a new channel partner enablement program that will include a Power Playbook designed exclusively for Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) Partners in the U.S. Will it happen in Canada? Well it’s possible but again it speaks to Ingram’s interests in the mid-market.

This program is designed to propel sales growth and educate channel partners on how to effectively market, sell and support Juniper solutions including the Juniper Networks EX Series Ethernet Switches.

It also draws upon the existing service and support resources offered to Juniper Partners from Ingram Micro and introduces additional partner marketing resources, and dedicated sales and technical support representatives. These new resources include targeted sales and business development tools, pre- and post-sales technical support, as well as field sales and marketing collateral.

As part of the new program, Juniper Partners also have access to business-building resources such as Ingram Micro Financial Services, Agency Express, the Ingram Micro Training Academy and the Ingram Micro Business Intelligence Center. Ingram Micro has also enhanced its Juniper Virtual Lab and continues to offer an online Juniper Store that hosts a variety of Juniper-specific tools, reference materials and white papers.

You can follow Paolo Del Nibletto on Twitter at twitter.com/paolocdn.