Ingram Micro Cloud has drawn from the parent organisation’s vast resource pool to become one of the largest cloud ecosystems in the world today. Speaking to CRN India, Jyotil Mankad, Director & Head of Cloud Business, Ingram Micro, elaborates the partners roadmap for cloud business
Can you explain the overall positioning of Ingram Micro Cloud business within its traditional distribution business?
Ingram Micro is the world’s largest technology distributor with strong vendor relationships, largest partner ecosystem and widest solutions offerings. We have stayed ahead of the technology learning curve by investing before time in creating capabilities that help our partners adopt emerging technologies be it cloud, cyber security, IoT and RPA. Ingram Micro Cloud has drawn from the parent organisation’s vast resource pool to become one of the largest cloud ecosystems in the world today. As a part of Ingram Micro the business has seen rapid growth over the last few years and there is an ever sharper focus to accelerate the cloud business by investing in building capabilities across the board in terms of people and technology. Every year we get closer to our goal to build world’s largest true multi-cloud ecosystem.
What has been the performance of cloud business in India?
India Cloud business has been one of the fastest growing businesses for many years now. Our focus and investments have helped diversify and expand our cloud offerings which has helped us grow faster than many of our competitors. Last year we have seen growth rates further accelerating as remote working became the norm and businesses adopted cloud as the primary choice of infrastructure deployment. It also helped that we were ready in the early stages of the pandemic with teams and tools to help our partners rapidly deploy solutions for their customers. There is a significant market opportunity that exists in India across segments and sectors and we believe that we are well placed to participate in that growth story along with our partner community.
Can you share the key learnings of the year 2020 and the growth of Ingram Micro Cloud ?
2020 was an unprecedented year for all of us. While the year brought in many challenges that we did not face in the past, it also accelerated the digital transformation and thereby brought opportunities for us, our partners and customers. The most meaningful accomplishment for us was the agility that our teams demonstrated to help our partners and customers to remain connected through the protracted lockdown.
The second area of noteworthy achievement was in meeting urgent customer needs to setup and augment virtual collaboration work tools for partners and for our partners’ customers. We saw significant acceleration in adoption of collaboration, meeting and security tools. For the second half we saw a clear shift as businesses adopt “as-a-service” solutions and cloud-first was the way to go for many businesses. We also enabled our large community of partners to be “cloud-ready” as they pivoted their business models to serve their customers. This level of focus was recognised when Microsoft awarded us Global Indirect Partner of the year. The third area of noteworthy success involved leveraging Ingram Micro’s continued focus on IaaS practice. We could help our partners to build, architect and also deploy the customer workloads on hyperscalers thus enabling a seamless transition for customers’ businesses.
What are some of your key plans for the next year?
Our biggest focus area is to elevate the experience of our partners and customers when they do business with Ingram Micro Cloud. We have built a team that is spread across the globe to provide world class experience and support to our ever-growing community of partners. Coupled with our existing team of technology experts, our partners will have the access to tools and resources to help their customers adopt cloud-based solutions at a much rapid pace.
Second area of focus is to continue building depth and competency in multi-cloud, Infrastructure-as-a- Service (IaaS) solutions. The continued acceleration of digital transformation is providing a large opportunity for partners to meet the need of their customers as they further a cloud-first deployment of workloads. The rapid growth in this space coupled with the scarcity of resources to address assessment, migration, and management needs provides a wealth of services rich opportunities for partners. Ingram Micro’s flight academy is a proven holistic IaaS development program designed to help partners build a successful cloud practice.
The third area is to help our partners the rapidly expanding opportunity in the cyber security space. The continued acceleration securing all data, endpoints, applications, etc. As digital transformation accelerates and workloads are deployed in multiple deployment models, the challenges to secure also rapidly expand. Customers are demanding partner competencies increase to meet this challenge. We are building a wide range of security solutions that will help our partners not only for the solutions needed today but also with a focus on innovation to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
What are some of the key offerings of cloud business?
We have 30+ offerings as part of our cloud portfolio and growing. Largely our offerings can be broken down into 4 areas viz. Communication & Collaboration, Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), Security and Business Apps. We work with all major global and local cloud vendors. Most of these are offered through Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace. Our cloud marketplace is one of its kind platforms that brings together partners, customers and curated cloud offerings. Partners can register for free and get access to the most comprehensive portfolio of ready to deploy cloud solutions. The cloud marketplace has a number of tools and features to help our partners grow their business irrespective of where they are in their cloud journey. Our marketplace has unveiled multiple path-breaking features like GTM hub that allows our partners to run customised marketing campaigns on all products complete with full repository of white label assets and campaign automation tools.
In addition, we have got a team of technical experts and professional services teams designated by different capability areas to help our partners with enablement, solution architecting and suite of professional and managed services capabilities.
What are some of the new initiatives planned for partners this year?
We will continue to build our portfolio to offer our partners the most comprehensive portfolio of multi-cloud offerings. The focus is to add emerging technology solutions around IaaS, security, automation and analytics. We will also continue to add features on our cloud marketplace that gives our partners flexibility to completely automate their customer journeys so that they can focus on driving business growth and customer excellence. We are also excited about an innovative new feature that enables our partners to build their own white labeled marketplace with full functionality to drive, build and grow their cloud business.
We feel our partners deserve the best and we are putting our partners at the centre of all that we do. We’re not just talking about small things here and there; Ingram Micro Cloud is making it happen in a big way. We’re initiating a series of sweeping changes to elevate our partner experience through our “Modern Support” initiative. Below are some of the focus areas to support our customers.
o Maintaining a dedicated in-house and local support team with enhanced Microsoft skills
o Streamlining Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace credits and refunds
o Modernising credit line requests and increases
o Ensuring better alignment with calendar billing
o Simplifying invoices to make them more intuitive
o Making ongoing improvements to Cloud Marketplace
o Offering new learning opportunities via live chat and Cloud University
These improvements will provide the answers and assistance to our partners more quickly and efficiently and enable our partners to put more of their focus on running a profitable cloud business.
What are some of the emerging opportunities that you believe will be big for your channel partners this year?
We believe that digital transformation of businesses that has started last year will continue and accelerate in this year. Data center transformation will further accelerate, and we will see larger proportion of workloads moving to cloud giving rise to multi-cloud and hybrid cloud opportunities especially in the IaaS space. This also means more opportunities in the professional and managed services space like deploy, manage and optimise the hybrid infrastructure on an ongoing basis.
With remote working becoming the norm, security will be one of the biggest areas of opportunity for our partners with focus on cybersecurity and moving beyond the traditional security offerings. The third area where our partners will see greater traction on is automation, RPA and analytics.
Ingram Micro Cloud has the broadest offerings in these areas that our partners can leverage. Also for partners who are making these pivots can lean on us to work with them in building the capabilities and draw from our investments in these solutions sets.
What are some of the initiatives taken (especially around skill development) to enhance the capabilities of partners, to take advantage of emerging opportunities?
Ingram Micro Cloud over the year has built a team of experts that help our partners fast track their capability building in the areas of IaaS, Collaboration, Security and RPA to name a few. We have also created a Cloud & Security Centre of Excellence (CoE) that develops wide range of use cases on the emerging technologies across vendor lines. We have a variety of structured enablement programs for our partners to help them expedite the skill development and capability building. In addition to standard training, certification and enablement interventions, we also work with our partners to create and enablement plan that is customised depending upon the existing business and skills landscape. The enablement plan includes active learning as well where our team of cloud experts work with the partners to architect a solution and also extend our services in deploying and managing these solutions should the partner need this assistance.
Services is a rapidly growing opportunity areas for our partners and to enable them to leverage this opportunity we have got a large catalogue of professional services for our partners to choose from across multiple technologies.