Microsoft has selected Ingram Micro as its Value Added Distributor (VAD) for virtualisation and Express Data as VAD for Unified Communications in New Zealand. The two distributors were selected after the vendor sent out an RFI to distributors in the country, as part of a worldwide VAD programme. “The key is for distributors to increase the amount of resources and technical capabilities,” explains Ingram Micro general manager for Vendor Management and Marketing Scott Cowen. “We increased those.” Cowen says that Microsoft virtualisation resellers working with Ingram Micro will now benefit from extra training, roadshows, sales and technical presentations, along with other things. “We have a larger dedicated Microsoft team, with a couple of new staff hires.” For Cowen, the VAD recognition from Microsoft comes also from the fact that the distributor has been working strongly in the virtualisation market, not only with Microsoft but also with VMware, HP and IBM servers. “A lot of [this] is what we were doing already,” he says, adding that, in spite of that, they have brought in additional resources. Cowen says the Microsoft team at Ingram Micro is also working alongside regional resellers, “the ones outside tier 1, who rely more on the distributor”. General Manager of Express Data Paul Plester also believes the extension of the distributor’s partnership with Microsoft, through the VAD of UC stamp, comes from Express Data “very long experience with networking and unified communications”. “Our resellers will be able to leverage that,” he adds. “We do thousands and thousands of phones every year,” says Plester, adding that the distributor is adding products such as Aastra and Plantronics to complement its Microsoft Lync offer in the UC area. “We are now a one-stop shop for Microsoft Lync requirements and we encourage Microsoft resellers to encourage those who used to be instant messaging customers to migrate to Lync. Once they see it, it takes off by itself,” adds the GM. Like Ingram Micro, Express Data has also added extra training and more staff through its VAD certification from Microsoft. “We are very comfortable with our channel partners,” says Plester, optimistic about the value of the new programme. “We have been working with Provoke and Kordia (who sells the only Lync certified network in New Zealand. It has got very good momentum,” he adds. Ingram Micro is hitting the road with its roadshow focused on HP Infrastructure and Microsoft Lync and System Centre from February 21 to March 8. Cowen says he expects to get good feedback from resellers as the company travels the country with the roadshow.