In the distribution market, rivals Ingram Micro and Synnex are preparing some cloud channel partner updates for VARs and managed services providers. The latest moves will likely surface at two separate conferences the week of April 10 in Boston (Synnex Varnex) and Chicago (Ingram Micro VTN). So what's on tap? I expected plenty of updates from Ingram Micro VP of Managed Services and Cloud Computing Renee Bergeron (pictured) and Synnex Senior VP Robert Stegner. Here's a preview.

So far, Ingram's game plan has been pretty easy to follow. The Synnex gameplan, meanwhile, combines some publicly confirmed moves with some silent efforts.

Let's start with Ingram. The distributor spent most of 2008 through mid-2010 promoting Ingram Micro Seismic, a business unit that helps to transform VARs into MSPs with recurring revenue business models. Some of the Seismic efforts include SaaS and cloud applications, such as hosted Exchange powered by Intermedia.

By June 2010, then Ingram VP Justin Crotty launched the first Ingram Cloud Summit to coincide with Ingram's annual Seismic partner gathering. Soon after, Crotty joined NetEnrich. His Ingram replacement, VP Renee Bergeron, gained both managed services and cloud computing in her title. The Ingram Micro Cloud portal debuted in November 2010, and it started to show some momentum in January 2011. By February 2011, Bergeron positioned Ingram Micro as the leading cloud aggregator for the channel.

No doubt, Bergeron will update that strategy during the Ingram Micro VTN conference in Chicago. I certainly understand how VARs and MSPs potentially benefit from Ingram Micro Cloud; the portal is basically an online database of SaaS and cloud options for channel partners. But I wonder: Can Ingram Micro really make a living aggregating third-party SaaS offerings? I'll ask Bergeron for her perspectives in Chicago.

Synnex: Sort of Keeping a Secret?

Meanwhile, the Synnex cloud and managed services strategy has achieved some key recent milestones -- though Synnex has yet to officially discuss some of the efforts with the media.

Amy Luby, formerly CEO of MSP Services Network, has spent more than a year helping Synnex to revise and update its managed services portfolio for channel partners. One of the major milestones occurred in December 2011, when Synnex shifted from IT Control Suite to the Level Platforms managed services software portfolio. Around the same time, Synnex started working far more closely with Reflexion (anti-spam and e-mail security) and Intronis (online backup). And Synnex apparently started rolling out a so-called one million freemium node strategy to selected MSPs and VARs, sources say.

But that's only part of the story. By February 2011, Synnex named Rob Moyer VP of Cloud Computing Program, according to Moyer's LinkedIn profile. Moyer had previous channel experience at Microsoft, Wyse and Ingram Micro. It's a safe bet Moyer has been working closely with Synnex Senior VP Robert Stegner on the distributor's cloud strategy.

Executive Backing

Ingram Micro CEO Gregory Spierkel and Synnex CEO Kevin Murai are expected to attend their respective partner conferences next week. Both executives have been careful not to hype cloud computing -- even as they assign R&D dollars to the cloud market.

Within the distribution market, I think Ingram Micro has been the most vocal cloud computing advocate to date. But I suspect Synnex will have some surprises in store for the Varnex conference.

The distribution dialog certainly won't end there. On April 20, Arrow ECS is expected to update its Arrow Fusion Cloud Services initiative during an Arrow forum in Atlanta, Ga.

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