Microsoft and Ingram Micro Join in SaaS Effort

Channel partners authorized to sell Microsoft products would have greater ability to provide SaaS solutions to midsize businesses. The idea is to build a managed services revenue stream.

December 2, 2008

Al Senia

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Distributor Ingram Micro and Microsoft Corp. are working closely to make it easier for channel partners to sell Microsoft SaaS solutions to the small and midsize business marketplace.

Under the arrangement, Ingram Micro (NYSE: IM) is making available Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) to channel partners selling SaaS services into the SMB space. The SPLA is a comprehensive, subscription-based licensing program that allows Microsoft-certified VARs to sell any number of seats on a worldwide basis.

The move should open up more SaaS markets to VARs, according to Jody Honore, vice president, vendor management, Ingram Micro U.S. "If a VAR is already doing SaaS implementations, this is a real good opportunity for them," Honore said. "They are now going to have access to a lot more Microsoft products."

The most popular Microsoft products covered under the arrangement include Exchange Server and Hosted Server, SharePoint Server and SQL Server. Others include Dynamics Business software, Forefront Client Security, Office System and System Center.

The new licensing program is available to Ingram Micro channel partners in North America. Microsoft's usage-based, Software + Service (S+S) offering enables channel partners to license the Microsoft products and platforms through Ingram Micro on a monthly basis through a dedicated or shared hosting environment. The Microsoft SPLA also provides channel partners with increased services flexibility and profit potential.

"This opens up new business to the small VAR who might not have been able to service the SMB customer before," Honore explained. "It is a very different and cost-effective way for them to go to market. It's a big opportunity in the small and midsize space, which we see as between 250 and 500 users. Software-as-a-Service is growing in popularity among today's IT channel and will continue to win big among SMBs due to the sheer efficiencies, cost-savings and flexibility of utility-based computing."

The program already operates in Canada. Honore said Microsoft hasn't placed any recruitment target on the joint effort, although she expects to attract "up to 1,000 resellers over time."

In a prepared statement, Ben Malek, senior director of hosting, Microsoft Americas, said the company was looking forward to working with Ingram Micro on building the SaaS business. "We designed this S+S program to help channel partners increase their profitability and gain a competitive services advantage," he said. "Together with Ingram Micro we are making it that much easier for channel partners to successfully sell hosted Microsoft solutions that are targeted to both the technical and business needs of SMBs."

Honore said the program appeals to channel partners because it requires no start-up costs and no minimum, up-front purchases. To become SPLA authorized, Ingram Micro partners need only be Microsoft certified and join the SPLA program.

(Al Senia is managing editor of ITChannelPlanet.com.)

TAGS: Microsoft,SMB,SaaS,managed services,Ingram

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