Dropbox extends its channel play, hooks Ingram Micro globally

It seems that Dropbox is finally getting an idea of what enterprise is all about.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post detailing some angst that file sharing vendor Dropbox was causing within its ecosystem. Dropbox's communication people reached out after my post (which is a nice change from them ignoring me) and invited me to visit them on my next San Francisco visit to get some background about where their enterprise push was currently situated. I took them up on the offer and spent some time with Hank Humphreys, channel chief at Dropbox to talk about what was going on.

Much of the conversation was by way of background, but Humphreys did open up about their channel strategy and the fact that they are very focused on growing their enterprise business via the channel. The recent hiccup was an unavoidable side-effect of this focus on the channel. Whereas in the past Dropbox grew largely through a self-service approach, the company realized it needed to build more robust tools and processes to really leverage the scale and the networks of their various channel partners.

And that seems to be paying off, speed wobbles notwithstanding, Dropbox for Business, the company's enterprise-focused product, was only introduced in 2013 but already has over 150,000 business customers. A telling comparison to make is to look at rival Box's growth in that time -- Box has roughly a third of the business customers that Dropbox does. Of course this isn't really an apples with apples comparison, but it's interesting looking at growth rates nonetheless.

All of that work seems to be paying off and Dropbox is today announcing that Ingram Micro has signed up to a global distribution agreement. The deal, which is a highly strategic move for both parties, exposes Dropbox to channel partners across Europe and the Pacific and adds extended availability to three cloud marketplaces.

It is, indeed, a match made in heaven. Dropbox certainly needs to justify its massive (although, it must be said, less massive than it was last year) valuation with real wins. The consumer side of the business isn't going to do this; hence an enterprise product sold through traditional channels is a key strategy.

For Ingram Micro it is similarly critical -- the company has a global focus on helping customers leverage technology and supply chain solutions. Increasingly, however, they have looked less relevant compared to the service providers who have jumped more rapidly into the cloud.

This deal initially covered the U.S. and Canada, but under the new agreement extends the availability of Dropbox Business to Ingram Micro channel partners across Europe, Australia and New Zealand, with plans to extend the offering into additional markets soon. 

Perhaps oblivious to the long-held criticisms (justified or otherwise) of Dropbox's enterprise readiness, Ingram Micro seems intent on averting its gaze from the other successful and enterprise-ready file sharing vendors out there:

“We believe Dropbox is one of the most widely adopted collaboration platforms on the market, with unique business-focused capabilities that we expect will deliver significant value to our cloud portfolio and global partner community,” said Renee Bergeron, Vice President, Global Cloud, Ingram Micro. “Dropbox and Ingram Micro’s strengthened relationship reaffirms our joint commitment to meet the growing demands of channel partners and their customers for secure and controlled file sharing and collaboration environments. Through this expanded agreement, we will leverage our combined technical capabilities and expertise to build a value-added solution for strategic customer segments and vertical markets.”

Notwithstanding Ingram Micro somewhat gilding the lily, this is certainly a great win for Dropbox who, as mentioned previously, need to quickly ramp up its enterprise success.

“Ingram Micro’s impressive commitment to the channel has set the pace for a great partnership and we look forward to driving new business opportunities for our mutual channel partners,” said Humphreys. “We’re excited at the ease with which all channel segments, such as MSPs, SIs, VARs, resellers, telcos and hosters can now access our services through Ingram Micro. By working together, we can help channel partners deliver an affordable offering that allows companies to speed up collaboration and increase productivity.”

Keep watching this space, it's only going to get more interesting.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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