Many Ingram Micro partners have come to rely on the distributor not just for help with product sourcing, logistics and training but for the deeper bench of technical, financial and community support it offers to the channel.
Here's a look at how four solution providers, with some help from Ingram Micro, are finding success.
Thanks to a bit of trust on Ingram Micro's part, Myriad Supply has grown to be a major New York-based security and cybersecurity solution provider.
It started about seven years ago when Ingram Micro was the first company to provide Myriad Supply with a line of credit, said founder and CEO Andy Fisher.
"When we started working with Ingram Micro, a big security deal [for us] was $50,000," Fisher told CRN. "Now we do dozens of seven-figure projects every quarter. Ingram Micro's credit people visit us a couple times a year and tell us if we have any unusual situations with customers, let them know and they will work with us."
With Ingram Micro credit, Myriad Supply is able to match its receivables with its payables, which is key to a smooth financial operation, Fisher said. "Customers ask us for 90-day terms," he said. "We can go to Ingram Micro, tell them we need terms to match the customer's 90-day terms, and they almost always say yes."
That trust goes beyond a simple line of credit, Fisher said. The distributor also holds millions of dollars worth of firewalls, routers and other equipment just to keep it handy, essentially placing orders with vendors like Juniper Networks for Myriad Supply ahead of time, he said.
As an example, he cited his company's work with a fast-moving real estate firm that is quickly acquiring space and has an unpredictable schedule.
"Ingram Micro holds stock for us, and placed orders ahead for us," he said. "Rather than us having millions of dollars' worth of firewalls, routers and so on on our books, they keep the stock for us. They know we can't put $3 million in Juniper stock on our shelves. This is also important to make sure we get fast delivery and don't have to wait for our orders to be shipped from the factory."
Fisher said his relationship with Ingram Micro is a true partnership.
"When we need a favor, Ingram Micro is ready to jump through fl aming hoops for us," he said. "Despite their size, there's a definite human-to-human relationship. It's refreshing to see that in a company of that size."
TRUST X ALLIANCE
Joining Ingram Micro's Trust X Alliance has made it possible for solution provider Aurora to tap into the experiences of its peers to accelerate its own success.
Aurora, a Torrance, Calif.-based consulting firm specializing in cybersecurity and compliance, is a member of one of the Mastermind peer groups within the Trust X Alliance.
Mastermind peer groups are composed of a maximum of 12 solution provider executives from noncompeting geographies and business fields who share best practices at the highest level, said Aurora CEO Philip de Souza.
Membership in a Mastermind peer group, de Souza said, requires being completely open to fellow members as a way to help each other. "We share everything: strategies, best practices, everything," he said. "My peers are on speed dial with me. They know everything: my numbers, how often I go on a date with my wife. We sometimes travel together with our families. It's nice to be part of a group of friends so close that if [something ever happened to me], I know who would be there to take care of my business."
Being part of a Mastermind peer group can have a huge positive impact on a solution provider's business, de Souza said.
"One company in our group was having financial issues and lost a couple of key people," he said. "We sent a group to see them, talk to their employees, and right the ship. Two years later, that company had its biggest year ever."
One of the regular activities of the Mastermind peer groups is looking at each member's "BICometer" score, a measure of how well each one is doing compared with the others in terms of best-in-class business practices, de Souza said.
"The BICometer measures our profitability, our top-line costs, our gross profits, and so on and compares them to each other and the rest of the industry," he said. "If someone in our group has a high sales-to-customer ratio, we can ask them what best practices they are using that we can adopt."
De Souza is still amazed at how well Mastermind works for his company. "Where else will you see possible competitors sharing details at this level and coming out stronger?" he said. "You could have knocked me over with a feather when I first heard of it."
INGRAM MICRO LINK
When two Ingram Micro solution providers want to work together on a project, they often turn to Ingram Micro Link, or IM Link, a platform that enables them to more easily manage all the details related to working together from initial contact to final payments.
Sam Barhoumeh, founder and CEO of ReadyNetworks, an Evanston, Ill.-based provider of Infrastructure as a Service, told CRN his company works through IM Link with other managed service providers who have clients who need advanced cloud services but not the expertise to go it alone.
ReadyNetworks is a Microsoft Gold partner, an Amazon Web Services Premier partner, and a Google Cloud consulting partner, and can provide the skills other solution providers need to bring clients to the cloud, Barhoumeh said.
"A lot of partners are traditional MSPs with a focus on data centers and on-premises infrastructures," he said. "For them, to lift and shift clients to the cloud becomes a challenge. They don't have the expertise to create the platform and move the business to the cloud. And not a lot of partners have invested enough on the software side."
IM Link provides ReadyNetworks and other solution providers the opportunity to work together, Barhoumeh said. IM Link sits between the partners, handling the actual transactions after they have negotiated the terms of their partnership, he said.
ReadyNetworks recently leveraged IM Link to help a peer on the East Coast that was competing against Rackspace to help automate the business of a New York-based ferry company.
"We moved the client to AWS," Barhoumeh said. "The customer was looking to automate and create a well-architected approach to the business. Rather than go with an up-front Capex, we helped them leverage the funding to get to AWS with a full turnkey solution that meets PCI guidelines. If IM Link wasn't there, we wouldn't have had that opportunity."
FUNDING FOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
Corus360's transformation from the rack-and-stack world of traditional Cisco networking to a new software-defined world of Cisco ACI, Cisco SD-WAN and Cisco HyperFlex hyper-converged infrastructure has already been under way for two years.
However, with the support of Ingram Micro the journey, while long, has been far more fruitful—and far less unpleasant—than it would have been if the Atlanta-based cloud, security and networking solution provider had invested on its own in the skills and resources needed to make the transformation.
"They are investing in us to see us grow," said Steve Johnson, Corus360's president and CEO. "They take an active role in our business."
Ingram Micro is helping Corus360 fund training for its engineers to learn Python scripting and other coding skills, an investment that already is paying dividends for the solution provider as it uses those skills to cut back on the hours of expensive engineering time needed to configure Cisco solutions.
The distributor also is funding Corus360's efforts to build up the skills necessary to automate new software-defined infrastructures, track malware faster and quickly upgrade networks, Johnson said.
"These are all new skills for us," Johnson told CRN. "Ingram Micro is helping us pivot and transform our business to meet tomorrow's business demands. I'm not seeing that from other distributors out there."
Partnering with Ingram Micro has been an important part of growing Corus360's business overall, said Johnson, who attends many Ingram Micro events, including the Ingram Micro ONE conference, as a member of the distributor's security council.
"Ingram Micro does an amazing job of making sure we understand the changes the industry is going through," he said. "They look at who is growing, who is getting the certifications. We show up on their radar, and they invest in us to see us grow. That take an active role in our business."