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Cloud Harmonics: Distributor becomes Ingram business unit

Ingram Micro purchases cloud distribution firm and security tech specialist Cloud Harmonics; IBM previews Watson Build 2.0; other news from the week.

Ingram Micro Inc.'s acquisition of Cloud Harmonics marks a union of traditional and cloud distributors.

The deal, announced Dec. 19, brings together companies with vastly different distribution backgrounds. Ingram Micro can trace its origins to 1979 and made a name for itself early on as a microcomputer distributor. Cloud Harmonics, a born-in-the-cloud distributor, was launched in 2012.

Ingram Micro said it is looking to Cloud Harmonics to "accelerate the security sales cycle" and back its IT channel partners to become trusted advisors in security. Cloud Harmonics' security technology portfolio includes established vendors such as Palo Alto Networks and Webroot as well as startups such as Attivo Networks and Menlo Security. The distributor works with more than 500 channel partners.

A spokeswoman for Ingram Micro said Cloud Harmonics, which also works with technology vendors outside of the security space, will see "a growing emphasis on security" under the Ingram Micro brand.

In addition to distribution, Cloud Harmonics offers education, training and technical enablement services. The company will operate as a new business unit within Ingram Micro's Advanced Solutions Division.  Pradeep Aswani, Cloud Harmonics founder, is now general manager of the business unit.

IBM suggests second Watson Build could be ahead

IBM has revealed that a second Watson Build competition could be in store for partners next year.

The worldwide competition, which was announced at the PartnerWorld Leadership Conference 2017, gave IBM partners an opportunity to experiment with Watson cognitive technology and create working prototypes of their business concepts. IBM received more than 400 entries for unique business plans before selecting a winner in November. 

"The impetus [of Watson Build] was to really get people engaged and building on our Watson technology," said Jacqueline Woods, chief marketing officer, IBM Business Partners, at IBM.

IBM named Italian managed cloud and services provider Blue IT Group and its cognitive innovation lab, b.digital, as the Watson Build winner for its precision farming solution, BioBotGuard.

Combining drone technology, high-resolution cameras, Watson visual recognition and the IBM Bluemix platform, BioBotGuard aims to reduce the costs associated with monitoring and treating crops. BioBotGuard's drones fly over crops and capture high-resolution images that Watson's visual recognition engines then search for harmful insects and other agricultural risks. Using the information, treatments can zero in on problem areas and target them with the appropriate pesticides.

According to Paolo Mazza, marketing and innovation director at b.digital, the agriculture industry's cost structure is "very rigid." "The same cost structure has been there for centuries. It's very labor intensive. … We thought this was the perfect case in which technology could make a difference and have an impact," he said.

"[BioBotGuard] is important because the cost structure is completely different, because you don't have to pay labor costs because the monitoring [and the operation are] done by the drones. … And you don't have to pay a lot of money for the treatment, because you don't go widespread; you just [apply it] specifically where it is needed," Mazza said.

The benefits of participating in the Watson Build competition were manifold for b.digital, he noted. Watson Build was an "excellent way to accelerate our learning curve in the Watson technology," he said. "Thanks to the visibility that IBM gave this competition … we had [a lot of] interest around this solution." 

Woods said that partners can expect to learn about Watson 2.0 at the PartnerWorld at Think 2018 conference, which will be held in Las Vegas in March. 

Stability in 2017, AI in 2018       

Nearly 90% of resellers in the U.S. market are holding their own financially, according to surveys polling 504 channel partners.

The surveys, conducted by OneAffiniti in conjunction with IT vendors, show that 44.8% of the respondents cited stable revenue, while 41.5% reported increased revenue in 2017. OneAffiniti is a marketing services firm that works with channel partners.

On the downside, 13.7% of the resellers surveyed said revenue declined in 2017.

Looking ahead to 2018, CompTIA's board of directors identified AI as playing a larger role next year. One in four companies makes regular use of AI in machine learning, virtual assistants, workflow tools and automation, according to a recent CompTIA survey. And 19% of organizations plan to adopt AI in the next year.

In addition, CompTIA's board believes there will be greater emphasis in 2018 on "optimizing customer experiences with technology" along with a focus on compliance requirements such the General Data Protection Regulation.

Other news

  • Ingram Micro added IBM MaaS360, a cognitive enterprise mobility management platform, to the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace. IBM MaaS360 is available to U.S. partners with a free, 30-day trial. Ingram Micro expects to expand availability outside the U.S. early next year.
  • Xerox built out its channel roster with the addition of Hilyard's Business Solutions and Rabbit Office Automation. More than 50 new document technology partner firms in the U.S. and Western Europe have joined Xerox's partner program in 2017, Xerox said. 
  • GTT Communications Inc., a cloud networking provider in McLean, Va., has expanded its channel partner program, appointing three regional vice presidents to run the initiative. The company said it offers its agent partners a portfolio of cloud networking services including an SD-WAN offering.
  • A hospital network will be the first tenant to occupy space in the second phase of T5 Data Centers' Chicago data center build out. The data center services provider said it has signed a pre-lease with the hospital client, which it did not identify.
  • CARVIR said it is partnering with EventTracker, an enterprise SIEM vendor, on a new SIEM product for managed service providers (MSPs). CARVIR, a cybersecurity company, offers monitored and managed endpoint security for the MSP and IT services channel.

 

Market Share is a news roundup published every Friday.

 

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