IBM is offering new training, technical, sales and marketing resources to help channel partners expand into cloud computing and business analytics, two markets IBM has identified as among its fastest growing.
IBM launched the IBM Cloud Computing Specialty, a partner initiative that pulls together in one program a range of cloud computing marketing and sales resources to help channel partners build, market and sell cloud computing solutions. The goal, according to IBM, is to develop and promote top cloud computing partners.
The cloud computing opportunity is expected to more than double from $68.3 billion in 2010 to $148.8 billion in 2014, IBM said, citing industry analyst forecasts. IBM said its own survey of 2,000 developers through its DeveloperWorks program found that 91 percent believe cloud computing will overtake on-premise computing by 2015. Midmarket companies are considered especially fertile ground for cloud computing.
Some partners such as TradeCard, an ISV partner that provides cloud application services for supply chain management, are already seeing that demand. "That train has already left the station," said Chris Clinton, TradeCard senior vice president of global channel management, of the migration away from on-premise systems to the cloud. Clinton noted that his company already has 7,800 customers using the TradeCard platform.
TradeCard has built its system on IBM's DB2 database and WebSphere middleware. "This IBM cloud specialty program is one of the best programs I've seen," Clinton said, speaking at the partner conference. "This is by far the winner."
The new cloud specialty, unveiled Tuesday at IBM's PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Orlando, is an extension of the industry specialty program the company launched in November.
The company is offering partners an assigned IBM relationship manager to provide day-to-day support, confidential updates on IBM's cloud strategy and roadmap, business development funds to spend on marketing and events, development workshops, assessment tools partners can use to develop customized recommendations for cloud strategies for clients, and expanded use of LotusLive to use for customer demonstrations.
TradeCard's Clinton said the perk of having "insider access" to IBM's cloud strategy was particularly invaluable.
Next: IBM's Five Cloud Computing Partner Categories
IBM said the Cloud Computing Specialty would support five types of solution provider: Cloud application providers that deliver Software-as-a-Service business applications through a subscription model; cloud builders that design, build and manage cloud systems for customers, including integrating cloud systems with other IT systems; cloud infrastructure providers that provide public cloud infrastructure or Platform-as-a-Service systems; cloud service solution providers that resell multiple public cloud services along with training and integration services; and cloud technology providers that offer tools, technologies and services such as billing, metering and monitoring for customers using cloud computing.
While those are all very different types of partners, the goal is to bring them all under one program, a move that will help them work with each other as well as with IBM, said Jim Corgel, general manager of ISV and developer relations for IBM.
IBM is also creating the IBM Cloud Computing Authorization designation for software resellers under the IBM Software Value Plus program. Partners who pass two cloud computing certification tests, provide a cloud offering based on IBM technologies, and provide references for successful customer implementations will be authorized to sell a broad range of IBM cloud computing products and services, have priority in receiving cloud computing sales leads, and be invited to attend joint planning sessions with IBM sales teams.
On the analytics side, IBM debuted IBM Cognos Express Planner, a new version of the Cognos Express midmarket business intelligence software specifically designed for financial planning tasks.
IBM is also offering partner access to its advanced analytics technology and providing more assistance within its 38 global Innovation Centers to help partners design, build and market new analytical solutions.