IDC, Ingram Micro: Cloud holds key to channel future

Ingram Micro and IDC executives speaking at a webinar encouraged channel partners seek out cloud opportunities in managed services, collaboration and innovative use cases.

Giving channel partners a taste of things to come at the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit, being held April 11 to April 13 in Phoenix, Ariz., the distributor today sponsored an online webinar -- Top Cloud Megatrends and Transformations Impacting Channel Partners' Success -- featuring Jason Bystrak, executive director Ingram Micro Cloud for the Americas and Darren Bibby, program vice president, channels and alliances research at IDC .

The takeaway message for partners, managed service providers (MSPs) in particular: The cloud is a big opportunity and requires a big transformation for their business, but the only way to grow is to embrace cloud and new value-added offerings.

"The best partners out there are investing in cloud because they know it's the future," Bibby said.

Bystrak and Bibby, who is a scheduled speaker at the upcoming Ingram Micro Cloud Summit event, elaborated on six mega trends:

Hybrid cloud leads to consolidated clouds

Customers don't have to make a choice between public or private cloud, as was the going thinking just a couple of years ago. Hybrid cloud is the popular cloud model today and more MSPs are using tools to deliver services around hybrid cloud, according to Bystrak.

The Ingram Micro Cloud executive also said that more customers are executing on cloud plans which means it's a good time for partners to jump in.

Bibby came armed with industry statistics and talked about many organizations demonstrating a fluid cloud architecture strategy. He said that by 2019, public cloud spending (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) will reach $141 billion. That number represents a 19.4% compound annual growth rate and one that is 6 times the normal rate of IT spending growth. At the same time, about 40% of all software revenue will be subscription based.

"And this is where the imagination comes in. We think that 50% of cloud applications and services are for use cases not served in the client-server era," said Bibby.

Greater cloud spending is expected to reach $500 billion by 2020, including SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, professional and managed services around cloud technology (public and private), and supporting software and hardware. Additionally, as of late 2015, 78% of organizations, worldwide, have either deployed or are deploying cloud technologies or have a cloud-first mentality.

Collaboration is a cloud phenomenon

Collaboration is quickly moving to the cloud, with email, file sharing, voice and deeper back-end integration among the examples. "Vendors are looking to pre-integrate these pieces and build packages, which plays in well with the ecosystem that Ingram Micro is building around cloud automation," Bystrak said.

Not only is collaboration a cloud-first motion but also businesses are ready for collaboration in the cloud all of which presents partners with a new opportunity as it takes root.

The real value of cloud services realized

Managed services used to be a nice to have; today it's critical. MSPs are positioned to take service calls, armed with the knowledge and toolsets to manage a hybrid cloud environment. In addition, under the umbrella of professional services, MSPs can help with integration and migration services all wrapped around support services.

The way Bibby framed this trend is that the customer has won. "There really isn't a choice anymore to go back to older models," he said. Customers want managed services for the cloud, which means that the new value add for MSPs should focus on areas of specialization, either vertical or horizontal process expertise. MSPs should also be more proactive, using diagnostics and analytics to help customers optimize their cloud applications, for example.

The changing IT decision maker

Although talk around the changing IT decision maker, namely the line of business (LOB) decision maker, has been ongoing for some time now, it still poses a challenge to many partners. When it comes to cloud, the focus is more on the application layer and less about the underlying infrastructure, which means partners, must be able to have the LOB discussion.

Partners need to form more LOB relationships as well as possess vertical and horizontal skill sets to have the right conversation to drive the right sale. Many partners, to their benefit, can use the skills they have talking to IT to play a broker role between IT and LOB managers.

According to Bibby, 19% of IT projects are funded by the IT department, while 81% of projects are LOB influenced.


Cloud is moving up market

Bystrak reported that Ingram Micro, based on the company's ten years in the cloud service provider market, has seen an increase in the average seat count for cloud opportunities. More vendors are touting a cloud-first strategy, but the obstacles to cloud adoption -- namely, security, privacy and speed -- are going away, and it's easy for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to move to cloud.

"The very things that were an obstacle to cloud several years ago are almost a selling factor for cloud today," Bibby said.

Going to market with a cloud-minded model

Cloud has indeed driven marketing changes from traditional to digital.

In other words, the sales approach that most partners have taken in their marketing for the past few decades is rapidly changing. Bibby reminded listeners that 65% of B2B buyers usually engage a sales rep only after they've made a purchase decision.

Customers are on a new buying journey. Partners have to do a lot more marketing in general and more digital marketing, in particular.  "We've seen some good examples with a lot of educational content on YouTube and white papers, but [the key is] getting core content out there that can be searched and found to help people chose your company based on what they found online," Bibby said.

Next Steps

Read how Ingram Micro's pending acquisition could bolster the company's cloud offerings

Learn about Ingram Micro Cloud and its Office 365 services

Find out why channel partners shouldn't overlook cloud computing

Dig Deeper on Managed cloud services