The distributor is basically building a program around what it's done on an ad hoc basis for some time. The bulk of these government contracts require that the prime contractor allocate a percentage of the business to small subcontractors -- minority-owned or woman-owned businesses.
The bulk of these federal and state government contracts flow to a dozen or so large integration firms, like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
"Those SIs are constantly looking for qualified small-business partners either in a given locale or who know the agency or have special expertise in storage or virtualization or some other area," said Bob Laclede, vice president and general manager for Ingram Micro's government and education sales.
"We're playing marriage broker. There are 200 to 300 diversity partners out there, and we connect them to the 12 or 15 major SIs," Laclede said. "If the contract requires commodity hardware -- desktops, routers, laptops -- the systems integrators would rather pull that through the small-business VARs. The SIs don't want to use up their buying power on that hardware; they'd rather bill out for services."
The systems integrators and small VARs find one another using Zone, Ingram Micro's GovEd social networking system.
Ingram Micro will detail the new System Integrator Support Program Monday at its GovEd Alliance Invitational conference in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Partners said building a practice around this business makes sense. "This could expand our business," said Ken Marks, president of Anacapa Micro Products Inc. in Ventura, Calif.
"I'm glad to see Ingram, as prominent as [it is], has taken the next step to create some more structure with this," he said.