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If you haven’t already noticed, the big word in the tech industry this year is "cloud." That was certainly in evidence this week at both the Synnex Varnex community event in Boston and at Ingram Micro’s VTN invitational community event in Chicago.

These two distributors laid out cloud plans with an eye to becoming an aggregator of cloud services and managed services that VARs and IT solution providers can turn to as they climb aboard the next big industry paradigm. And many solution providers are well on the way.

"A number of members have already jumped on the cloud," Renee Bergeron, vice president of managed services and cloud computing at Ingram Micro, told Channel Insider. "A good portion have dabbled in it, and some are looking to expand."

More than half of VTN members are selling cloud services already, according to Jason Bystrack, sales director of Ingram Micro’s Services Division for North America.

Those who have already made the move to managed services are finding an easier transition to the cloud, Bergeron said, because they’ve already started transitioning their business model and their sales force to a new way of payment and doing business.

Many solution providers will find the move to cloud a lot easier than the transition to managed services, even if they haven’t yet offered managed services.

"With managed services you are either all in or all out," Bergeron said. "But you can take just a piece of IT infrastructure and put it in the cloud."

Ingram Micro announced a handful of new partnerships and services during the VTN conference in Chicago, and IT solution providers can expect to see more announcements around new services in the months to come. In particular, keep your eye focused on Ingram Micro’s Cloud Summit scheduled for June 1 and 2 in Phoenix, Ariz. Among the services on Ingram Micro’s roadmap for cloud are unified communications and desktop virtualization. Ingram Micro is also working to add business applications such as ERP and CRM to the cloud services line card.

So far top cloud services in demand among partners include compute on demand, especially for development and test environments; storage on demand, particularly for back up and recovery; and all types of security, Bystrack told Channel Insider.

As for managed services, the top services managed service providers are leaning on Ingram Micro for include Service Desk, which is provided by Synergy and now also by Fujitsu; hosting, including managed and dedicated infrastructure.

Additional managed services will also be announced at the Cloud Summit. Partners can expect Ingram Micro to provide more around invoicing, provisioning service management and contract processes.

Ingram Micro says about 1,500 resellers are now using the Ingram Micro Cloud portal, introduced in November 2010, which provides education, marketing materials and other resources to help partners align their businesses, sales and offerings with the cloud delivery model of IT.