Just as value-added resellers (VARs), system integrators and retail chains tap distributors to augment skills gaps and complement their expertise, distributors like Ingram Micro expect their cloud, virtualization and digital transformation capabilities will help communication service providers break into or expand sales of New IP solutions.
Ingram Micro, which earned $43 billion revenue in 2015, melds its knowledge of cloud, technology acquisitions and insight into indirect channels to bolster operators' ability to transition existing telecom customers into cloud and digital transformation customers, says Jason Bystrak, executive director in North America for Ingram Micro Cloud, in an interview.
The distributor developed a three-prong approach: First, Ingram Micro Inc. (NYSE: IM) created a "comprehensive services catalog" coupled with "flexible cloud platforms" and, thirdly, assistance to CSPs in "business transformation to cloud," he says. That includes taking multi-vendor products and bundling them for horizontal- and vertical-market uses, simplifying and accelerating operators' ability to take them to market, notes Bystrak.
Made for Cloud
Cloud is a natural extension to service provider's existing model of recurring revenue, says Ingram Micro's Jason Bystrak.
Ingram Micro is not new to CSPs: Years ago, the distributor worked with vendors and indirect-channel customers on converged technologies such as videoconferencing and unified communications. But its December 2015 acquisition of Odin Service Automation Platform brought API-based cloud-enabling technology and a roster of new channel partners, including many CSPs, Bystrak says.
"When we purchased Odin, it gave us about 4,000 new channel partner customers in the profile of communication service providers as well as cloud hosts, and I think all these different channel models have different needs. When it comes to business transformation, we help them understand the market, understand the technical processes, how to wrap services that are important around cloud and understanding their business model helps fill the gaps," he says.
Service provider customers include Verizon, CenturyLink and Time Warner.
Pros and cons
Service providers typically have extensive relationships with customers and need to build on these by educating businesses about their cloud and business transformation capabilities; other indirect channels more often face a need to generate sales leads, says Bystrak.
Likewise, operators are accustomed to recurring revenue models -- and cloud is a natural extension, he says.
"Cloud drives more bandwidth; they know that, and want to sell more of their core product, bandwidth. The challenge we find communication providers have is they don't necessarily have the technical skills to onboard and support the cloud solutions -- something like Office 365 for example -- so they're asking us for help to supplement their technical skills to be successful," adds Bystrak. "When you think of a telecom-centric partner, they may not have the technical skills to be able to do an assessment and design of cloud infrastructure as a service."
Ingram Micro will partner with service providers by conducting full cloud assessments for prospective customers, then drafting a blueprint on using cloud -- perhaps Amazon or an Amazon hybrid model that includes the operator's existing virtualized environment so the solution runs both on-premise and in the cloud, he adds.
"When they win the deal, we can come in and then do service delivery, so we'll help get the environment up and running and tested, migrated into a production environment, and then remotely monitor and take support desk calls for that environment," says Bystrak. "These channel partners often don't have those technical skills or mature processes to do all that, so we supplement these services."
— Alison Diana, Editor, The New IP Agency. Follow her on Twitter @alisoncdiana or @The_New_IP.