Ingram Micro is "actively" assembling a cloud portfolio in EMEA to stake its claim early in the development of the market.
The distributor, which last night reported a 12% rise in Q4 sales to $9.88bn and a 7.4% rise in profits $115m, sent Jason Beal across the Atlantic last year to head up a cloud services operation in Europe.
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The Seismic programme - a cloud platform - hit the US last autumn but most of the activities to date centred on reseller education, though Ingram is selling a VMware service and has signed Microsoft, Rackspace and Amazon Web Solutions.
"EMEA is also actively creating a cloud offering. Germany was the first out of the gate signing with Microsoft and VisionApp," said Greg Spierkel, Ingram Micro CEO.
"Many cloud providers are new to the channel and our resellers are still exploring opportunities. By launching first-to-market education and solutions, we believe we will seize an early lead on a high-growth opportunity," he added.
The much-hyped cloud is "two to three" away from being very prevalent in the IT channel, according to Ingram big cheese, and some vendors are projecting it to account for 5% to 10% of yearly revenues by that time.
Other distributors are debating the impact of the as-a-service model on their business but Spierkel said this would have implications for billing. However credit and service aggregation plus hardware logistics would remain relevant to resellers, he said.
"The vendor community is excited about reaching SMB. Typically, that's 30% to 40% of their overall revenues if not more...and distribution is a key market for all of that...it's still early stages but I think its going to be a pretty quick acceleration."
Back to the Q4 numbers, North America grew sales 13% to 4$bn, EMEA was up 10% to $3.35bn - including an 8% hit due from foreign exchange conversions - and Asia Pacific and Latin America grew 15% and 11% to $1.98bn and $496m.
"With the end of 2010, we closed a volatile yet successful decade on a record-breaking high," said Spierkel.
He said that after losing market share in 2008 and 2009, it outgrew the market last year, in part by using aggressive tactics to win back business, the market was returning to normal patterns.
"So our bias will probably be to hold around market growth rates and then try to find the right pockets of opportunity that present better margin for us in the mix of our overall portfolio," he added.