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VARs have welcomed the move by IBM to add Ingram Micro to its growing roster of distributors for its N series storage portfolio, as predicted by The Channel Insider.

IBM announced Jan. 3 that it had expanded its distribution lineup to include Tech Data alongside incumbents Avnet and Arrow Electronics. Ingram Micro has now been added to the list to supply the N series in North America.

The N series portfolio comprises high-end, enterprise-class NAS (network-attached storage) hardware and software targeted at small and midsize businesses. IBM OEMs the N series software and hardware, from Network Appliance, which also brands the product, which Ingram does not sell, said Scott Zahl, vice president of vendor management at Ingram Micro.

Zahl said Ingram didn’t feel the increased distribution was a threat to Ingram VARs. He said Ingram Micro intends to enforce rigorous certification requirements before VARs are qualified to sell the N series. However, he said the distributor will offer partners advanced education and certification support, and will provide configuration, field sales and technical support after partners are certified. This support, along with the technical training, is how Ingram intends to differentiate itself from rival Tech Data, Zahl said.

Mark Rodriguez, vice president of advanced technology services division at Ingram Micro partner EduCorp, said he has given his staff 60 days to complete the requirements and get up to speed on the N series products. "By the end of February, I want to have at least one certified salesperson and two certified technicians," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he was pleased that Ingram would distribute the N series, since it would be a boon to his SMB and vertical customers. "The level of storage management expertise in these types of clients is lacking," he said. Prior to the announcement, he said, clients just weren’t willing to commit to a large storage sale that their IT staff wasn’t able to manage, maintain and troubleshoot, he said.

The addition of the N series to Ingram’s linecard gives Rodriguez the ability to enter new customers or revisit existing customers with a storage system that gives them enterprise-level capability that they can easily handle, he said, adding that he wished Ingram would distribute the entire IBM line of storage products.

Click here to read more about IBM’s signing of Tech Data to distribute its N series.

Zahl said the distributor has a small number of VARs currently undergoing the required education and certification classes. "We’ll be raring to go with technical and sales support as soon as they are certified," Zahl said.

Zahl said VARs should be using the N series to differentiate themselves in key vertical markets such as health care because that sector is beginning to rely on digital records and imaging, which requires an immense amount of storage. The N series is configured to order, so can be bespoke for each vertical customer, Zahl added.

IBM would not comment on the distribution deal.