Resellers are becoming more interested and involved in Cloud services, according to leading distributor, Ingram Micro, which has seen a surge in the uptake of its Cloud services products.
Ingram Micro business manager for Cloud and Managed Services and Technical Operations, Danny Dainton, said, the company had been inundated with requests from resellers wanting to find out more about its Cloud services offerings.
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"We've seen a huge increase in interest and activity recently, which is very gratifying," Dainton said. "Clearly Cloud services has really started to impact in mainstream IT, and this is reflected in the increase in the services business we're seeing. We think 2013 is the year resellers will really start to concentrate on developing and building recurring revenues from services."
Dainton said Ingram Micro's focus, when it setup its Cloud Services program, was to establish a community of resellers that were actively transacting Cloud services. Which meant not only developing the right suite of Cloud services to suit their needs, but working with resellers to identify and close opportunities, helping them to transform their business and build sustainable revenues and a long-term services business.
"We have often seen Cloud partner programs announce they have signed a number of partners, but often those partners fail to take the next step and start transacting, and that's really the proof-point for a successful program. Since the launch of our Cloud Services reseller program not only have we signed more than 100 partners, but almost half of those partners are actively transacting."
One of the keys to success, Dainton sais, is having services that are easy for resellers to understand, manage, deploy and bill, and which are well targeted at the needs of resellers' customers.
"We are well on the way to building a market leading 'app store' for Cloud services. Already we offer Hosted Exchange with Sharepoint, Cloud backup, virtual machine hosting [with Linux and Windows Server options], Web hosting, and domain name registration. We have just launched a cutting edge Payment Gateway service for faster, easier online payments and added Microsoft Lync for Instant Messaging and Presence. And we have an extensive product development roadmap planned for the rest of 2013."
These hosting options are all offered via Ingram Micro's market reseller portal -- www.imcloudserivces.com.au which allows resellers to establish a Cloud services storefront that they can brand as their own and integrate into their existing website.
"The portal also automates the process of provisioning services and billing customers, so resellers can quickly scale their Cloud services business without the need to invest in additional resources."
Dainton says what has been interesting is the speed with which SMB resellers have swung behind Cloud Services.
"The program has attracted a broad range of partners. But demand has been particularly strong from SMB resellers and larger resellers that reach into the SMB market. Many partners are exploring Cloud opportunities for the first time, but a number have also migrated their in-house hosted services onto our Cloud platform to take advantage of the automation and scale our platform offers."
Ingram Micro business manager Enterprise Software, Lee Welch, and his team put together Ingram Micro's Cloud Advance program.
Welch said much of the future growth of Ingram Micro's Cloud Services will be driven by education and training programs -- like Cloud Advance - that enables resellers to identify opportunities and start reselling Cloud Services quickly.
"We've had phenomenal success with Cloud Advance," Welch says. "It is a structured, online-training program we've developed to help resellers learn about the Cloud opportunity and to help them transform their business to a monthly recurring revenue model. Already we have nearly 300 resellers registered in the program, with many more expressing an interest in participating in future programs and signing on as a partner".
According to Welch, the Cloud Advance program has been key to building up the number of resellers who are actively selling Cloud services.
"At the end of the program, certified Cloud Advance resellers are better educated and enabled than their competitors," he claimed. "Based on our experience to date, we anticipate the vast majority of them will quickly graduate to transacting Cloud Services."
Dainton puts the recent surge in uptake of Ingram Micro's Cloud Services offerings down to a number of factors.
"The first is we've been working on this for a while now. We've worked hard to build a partner smart approach that makes it easier for resellers to migrate their clients to the cloud while retaining ownership of the billing relationship. Secondly, we're working closely alongside these resellers to help them make the transition from selling tin to selling services," Dainton says.
"And, lastly, Cloud is clearly becoming mainstream. The benefits that enterprises have been seeing from Cloud have started to make their way into the SMB space, and demand is soaring as a result. 2013 is the start of a real shift in behaviour by resellers and their customers."