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Ingram Micro Embraces Microsoft's New Cloud Solution Provider Program

Ingram Micro on Monday unveiled an expanded set of automations and services around Office 365 that the distributor believes will kickstart strong growth for Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partner business model.

Microsoft announced the CSP program last July and began rolling the program out in the fall. The idea behind CSP is to allow partners to package Office 365 and other cloud products and control the billing and customer relationship. Unlike Microsoft's advisor model, Microsoft does not bill the partner's customer directly. Unlike the Open licensing partner model, the partner is not responsible for buying a year's worth of licenses but instead can pay on a monthly basis in the same way that they will be billing their customers.

CSP consists of two models: 1-tier is for a few strategic partners who will deal directly with Microsoft, while 2-tier is the breadth program in which Microsoft will sell to distributors, called Master Cloud Service Providers, who then resell to partners who resell subscriptions to customers.

Ingram joined the CSP program as a distributor last year, but this week at its annual Cloud Summit in Phoenix, Ariz., announced significant automations, channel services and add-on programs for its partners.

"We actually announced in the fall of 2014 that we had been authorized to sell CSP, and we went to market as everybody else did with some manual intervention in the background," said Renee Bergeron, vice president of cloud computing at Ingram Micro, in an interview. "We are the first two-tier partner that has actually automated the entire process."

That automation takes the form of the new inclusion of Office 365 in the Ingram Cloud Marketplace, where Ingram's partners can come to order cloud products. The other major new automation component is tight integration with SkyKick -- the channel-focused toolset created by former Microsofties to simplify, automate and speed up the selling, provisioning, migration, management and setup of Office 365.

"In general, the feeling is CSP really is going to be a powerful new model, especially the way Ingram is using it to really drive adoption," said Evan Richman, co-CEO of SkyKick.

SkyKick, which has been selling its toolset to partners since 2013, can take a regular username and password (administrative credentials aren't necessary) from a customer and automatically discover the server, all the e-mail addresses and other critical details of the existing infrastructure. From there, SkyKick presents the partner with a list of e-mail addresses and a simple selection process to pick which Office 365 SKU addresses each need.

Integration with Ingram Micro's back end will mean precise pricing customized for the selling partner will appear on the partner's screen. Once SKUs are selected, SkyKick provides tools for customizing and scheduling migrations and managing the project.

In the Ingram Micro cloud marketplace, partners who select Office 365 will get three ordering options for Office 365. They can select Office 365 with the full SkyKick Automated Email Discovery and Migration Services; they can pick Office 365 with SkyKick's automated e-mail discovery for free; or they can choose Office 365 by itself, mostly for new accounts without legacy e-mail accounts or servers to migrate (see screenshot).

[Click on image for larger view.] Selecting Office 365 in Ingram Micro's Cloud Marketplace brings up three order options, two of which are powered by SkyKick automation tools. (Image Source: SkyKick.)

Ingram is also bringing many other elements to the cloud marketplace that its partners will be able to sell to enhance Office 365. "Now with the automation, we can enable them to do a lot more than just sell the mailbox. For example, on the marketplace, they can bundle that mailbox with their own help desk, or they can bundle it with security," Bergeron said. "We have 10 vendor partners, and together they represent 55 different services."

Other offerings in the marketplace include security from McAfee and Trend Micro, backup from Acronis, an Ingram Micro Service Desk that can be white-labeled, as well as products from Cirius, Nomadesk and RingCentral.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 09, 2015 at 12:11 PM