It might come as a surprise to some people but one of the biggest barriers to traditional service providers moving to a model of selling cloud is the antiquity of their backoffice systems. I’ve spent some time consulting to organizations looking to on-sell cloud solutions, and the stumbling block always seems to be their billing systems which are invariably monolithic, inflexible and fundamentally incapable of handling the complexities of cloud pricing.

Which is exactly the sort of problem that Ingram Micro Cloud is trying to resolve? The various products that make up the offering are all designed to allow cloud service providers, telecom companies, resellers and enterprises to market, package, bill and manage cloud and digital services. And today they’re upping the ante on that with the announcement of the Advanced edition of the Ingram Micro Cloud Platform (and, yes, they need some help with their naming conventions, for sure). The offering is being unveiled at the company’s APS Connect event in Amsterdam and is aimed at offering the full lifecycle of cloud commerce services that an organization needs.

Alongside the announcement of Advance, Ingram is also unveiling a strategic partnership with Google, making the full set of G-Suite solutions available to Ingram Micro’s reseller and service provider partners. This adds to the existing portfolio of more than 200 cloud services from vendors such as DocuSign, Dropbox, IBM, Intuit, Microsoft, Symantec, and others.

Anyway, back to Advanced. This is the first time that Ingram is offering a fully hosted version of the platform – so instead of organizations having to stand up their own infrastructure in order to sell cloud-based solutions (which, if you think about it, is a pretty ironic juxtaposition), these folks can simply sign up to Advanced, and from there allow their own customers to sign up for their choice of cloud offerings.

Of course, cloud commerce isn’t new to Ingram, the company claims that it currently manages more than 25 million users in over 44 countries and powers the 30 largest cloud marketplaces in the world, including those from America Movil, Dell, Insight, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telstra and Vodafone

According to the company, the key capabilities of the new Advanced edition include:

  • Full XaaS subscription management and automation with telco-grade Operations Support System (OSS) and Business Support System (BSS) capabilities; provisioning, order, subscription, invoicing and recurring billing, payment management and analytics
  • Fast time to market with the world’s largest portfolio of more than 200 pre-populated cloud services
  • The ability to transform your core offerings – SaaS, IaaS, IoT, HWaaS and Managed Services – to various subscription business models that increase recurring revenue and customer loyalty
  • Open APIs to flexibly integrate and automate with back-office systems such as IDM, CRM, eCommerce, ERP, Finance, BI systems, etc.
  • Multi IaaS management enabling multi-cloud application lifecycle management
  • Broad market reach with online storefront, omni-channel sales, and reseller management
  • Branded self-service panels for customers, resellers partners, and service providers
  • Go-to-Market program and 24×7 support that significantly simplify transformation journeys with reduced time and costs

Of course, Ingram is bullish about Advanced and, in a statement that might get competitor AppDirect hot under the collar, suggests it is a one of a kind offering. Per Richard Dufty, SVP at Ingram (and, not-so-coincidentally, ex-exec at AppDirect):

Ingram Micro Cloud is the only platform company that enables partners to sell any service with any business model, including a hybrid consumption model, with both PaaS and on-premises options, in addition to robust go-to-market and sales enablement programs. With the addition of our latest Advanced edition, the Ingram Micro Cloud Platform now offers customers a complete growth path with hybrid and agnostic solutions. The streamlined platform delivers the best value to Ingram Micro Cloud customers by guiding their holistic digital transformation journey, no matter where along their roadmap they are.

Regardless of how unique their platform is, the fact of the matter is that Ingram IS helping traditional organizations compete in this brave new world. One customer is Casanet SA, a subsidiary of Maroc Telecom. Says Yassir Lamrani, Director Général at Casanet:

At many telecom companies, time to market is essential, but it takes a lot of effort to build new digital services practices. By partnering with Ingram Micro, we are able to immediately offer the entire services catalog of Ingram Micro Cloud and ISV ecosystem. It’s all connected and up and running for our customers from the start. We can shorten the time to launch new cloud practices by 70% and quickly capture share in the new market with minimized risks, while drastically cut down operational costs by using Ingram Micro’s cloud-based managed platform, standardized operating model and comprehensive go-to-market enablement programs.

MyPOV

This is a huge market opportunity and Ingram Micro has the advantage of being a known quantity to these predominantly large potential customers. Advanced takes the platform to another level and I’m looking forward to checking back in and seeing how the market responds to it.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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