The Second Annual Ingram Micro Cloud Summit is set to run June 1-2 in Phoenix. So what's on tap for the summit -- and what cloud-related surprises should VARs and managed services providers expect? Here are eight trends and themes that Talkin' Cloud expects to emerge at the conference.

1. Managed Services Meets Cloud Computing: There's a reason why Ingram Micro VP of Managed Services and Cloud Computing Renee Bergeron has such a distinct business title. She joined Ingram Micro in September 2010. And since that time, the lines between Ingram Micro Seismic (a managed services push) and Ingram Micro Cloud have blurred. My best guess: The line will ultimately fade away...

2. Cloud Aggregation Update: Bergeron launched the Ingram Micro Cloud portal in November 2010. Fast forward to February 2011, and Bergeron positioned Ingram Micro as the distribution industry's leading cloud aggregator. The idea is for Ingram to be the one-stop shop for VARs and MSPs seeking third-party cloud services. Early partners include Amazon.com, Microsoft, Rackspace and Salesforce.com.

Still, Ingram's cloud aggregator strategy faces plenty of challenges. Can Ingram actually make money aggregating third-party cloud applications? A few weeks ago, Bergeron told me the cloud effort is a for-profit strategy... not a charity.

But there's also the question of competition. Just about every major distributor has announced a cloud push and/or a cloud aggregator strategy. Recent examples include:

Like we said: Distributors are making lots of cloud noise. We'll see if Ingram can continue to stand out from the croud.

3. MSP Software: Ingram has a longstanding RMM (remote monitoring and management) software relationship with Nimsoft. To the best of my knowledge, Ingram also resells Level Platforms though it no longer hosts that platform for MSPs. Ingram also has a SaaS relationship with Kaseya in Australia. My best guess: Ingram will make at least two moves  this week with MSP software providers in North America...

4. The Countdown: I suspect Microsoft will release Office 365 to the masses within the next few weeks -- before the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) begins July 10 in Los Angeles. The SaaS suite -- including everything from Exchange Online to SharePoint Online -- will start at $6 per user per month. For VARs and MSPs, it's time to get educated. And there will be plenty of Office 365 talk at Ingram Micro Cloud Summit.

5. A Cloud Bill of Rights: Some VARs and MSPs are calling on the industry to create a cloud bill of rights for the channel. Among the items mentioned to me, channel partners should have the right to...

  • Control end-customer billing and pricing for cloud services.

  • Maintain account control within cloud partner programs, blocking the cloud provider from directly contacting the VARs' end-customers.

  • Control branding for third-party cloud services.

  • What else? I'll be asking Ingram Micro Cloud Summit attendees for their thoughts.


6. The Business Model: Much like the managed services market before it, VARs and MSPs are asking how to set up pricing, sales force compensation and service level agreements for cloud solutions. I suspect IPED veteran Ryan Morris, now running Morris Management Partners, will be on hand to share some guidance.

7. Mergers and Acquisitions: Some Ingram cloud partners have been acquired. For instance, Oak Hill Capital Partners last week acquired Intermedia, the hosted Exchange specialist. Intermedia will be on hand at Ingram Micro Cloud Summit and the company remains committed to its channel partners. As I tour the conference I will certainly wonder: Who's next on the M&A front?

8. Get Moving: The bottom line... There's lots of cloud computing noise but the market is real. Our own Talkin' Cloud 50 -- which tracks the top VARs and MSPs navigating cloud computing -- shows cloud computing revenues growing nearly 50 percent in 2010 vs. 2009. (The complete Talkin' Cloud 50 report will debut on this site within days.) Savvy VARs and MSPs are already making their cloud bets. And we'll get an update on those bets during the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit.

That's all for now. I land soon in Phoenix for the summit. And Talkin' Cloud will be blogging live throughout the conference.

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