Ingram Micro has added education and training to its Services Group with the announcement of the Ingram Micro Training Academy (IMTA).
Its first education and training partner for the new initiative is global training company, Fast Lane.
The move broadens the reach of Ingram's Services Group that was announced in September. It is the first of several initiatives to be introduced by the Group over the next four months.
The distributor will also localise its successful IngramMicroCloud.com for Australia and call it Cloud Marketplace. And it will move into the area of Business Transformation with a boot camp in Sydney in March.
It's a long way from the old image of box-pushing IM.
"We want to create an ecosystem of services for the channel," Business Unit Manager of the Services Group, Darren Elsby said.
"We've been working hard behind the scenes for about 12 months now on our services strategy. Since we launched the Services Group we've made a number of announcements particularly around new vendors coming on-board and largely they've all focused around managed services.
"More recently, we brought on hosting partners such as UberGlobal and Ultra Serve and professional services partner in Insentra. With our managed services group we are talking about providing tool sets for our partners - we're not lining up an army of Ingram Micro engineers in a network operation centre that will compete with our partners in the channel.
"Everything we are doing is channel-focused. Everything we do is provided as an offer to our reseller partners who take it to their end-users. This includes invoicing and accounting, the operational side of things - which is key.
"Now we are launching an Ingram Micro Training Academy. We will be in the business of providing training and certification into the channel."
Big step? Yes, but Elsby said it wasn't new to Ingram. The company's Singapore office, which is the regional headquarters for Asia-Pacific, has been running a training and certification business for about five years and it's US business has been running a training business for a similar amount of time.
"We're extending it out here," he said. "One of the key differences is that we've chosen to partner with Fast Lane which is pretty well known in the market for providing quality Cisco and Microsoft training.
"We struck an arrangement with them where we will provide a channel and go-to-market and they will provide us with the ability to get access to their training courses, their instructors, their locations around the country.
"It's an enabler and a value-add from an Ingram Micro perspective."
To access training through Ingram Micro’s Training Academy, resellers purchase training credits through IM, book the course they wish and then redeem the training credits at face-value to pay for the course.
If resellers want to sell training to their customers, Elsby said they could resell training credits to their customers which could then redeemed in the same way.
He said resellers could either choose whether to add a margin when they resold credits or bundle them as part of a solution.
Adding to the education process will be the localised version of Ingram MicroCloud.com which will also sit on the Services platform.
"There's a lot of questions and confusion out there about Cloud," Elsby says. "There's two things we will do to address that. In the next couple of weeks we will drop Cloud Marketplace onto the Services Group website and that will archive three things for us.
"That will provide focus, aggregate a lot of the Cloud solutions we already have on the books today. It gives the ability to add new Cloud solutions as they enter the market.
"The second key thing will be to provide lots of education - lots of independent analysts reports, white papers, architecture guides.
"The third part to it is we want to make it easy for people to get a quote and understand it."
Elsby said Ingram had always planned to deploy an ecosystem of services for the channel. It had always planned to provide training, some professional services, easy access to Cloud solutions, and tool sets from its managed services side.
"One of the big things we are seeing in the market that's a challenge for every vendor and distributors as well, is how do we take education and apply that to not just informing individuals within an organisation but taking it a step forward and talking about business transformation,” he said.
"There are still a lot of break-fix type shops and MSPs out there and a lot of conversations around changing the way business is done, particularly around CAPEX and OPEX discussions but moving your break-fix business to becoming a monthly recurring revenue type business through to faster-paced Cloud-orientated business which might incur micro-billing; how you mange all that; how a reseller would define their offers to market very cleanly in black and white which is extremely difficult do. The legals, marketing and leadership around that. That's a big challenge.
"One of the things we have planned is a boot camp in Sydney in March. We have been working globally with Managed Services Provider University [MSPU], which is based in California. It provides education and training around business transformation."
And that fits Ingram's desire to provide an educational overlay around business transformation.
Fast Lane’s Sales Director, Paul Carney, said virtually all of every of Ingram's resellers, and customers, needed training at some point.
“And that training is not an insignificant budget item for many of them," he said in a statement. "So our aim in partnering with Ingram Micro is to make it as easy as possible for resellers to access high quality training from Fast Lane. And to deliver that training at a reasonable price that enables resellers to up-skill their own staff affordably and on-sell or bundle training as a value add for their customers.
“Sometimes a reseller may need to bundle training as part of an overall solution for a customer,” Carney said, “so we can work with them to put together a custom course that can then be delivered to the customer.”
Further information about Ingram Micro’s Training Academy is available at the Ingram Micro Services Group website.
Click for information on Fast Lane.