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CRN: How many partners have you met with?
Hennessy: Hundreds. Part of it is the travel. Part of it is the exciting announcements we've had recently with PureSystems. We were doing a series of 200 partner days around the world where we brought partners in and went through the announcement and a lot of enablement. And then, of course, we also had PartnerWorld [Leadership Conference in New Orleans in February]. So, all those different events allowed me to get off to a fast start and literally meet with hundreds of partners around the world.
There have been some key messages and key themes that have come out of that. Partners are really looking to expand their businesses, both in terms of the size and scope of their businesses, but just as important, the type of value they are providing to clients. And, I feel that we're really well-positioned to help them with those aspirations and to help them get into those new spaces and those new markets.
I guess I would break it down into three categories: Helping our partners get into new markets. Last year we declared that the mid-market space was going to be partner-led for IBM. That's a huge piece of the marketplace and partners have responded very well to that; they have been very aggressive in that market space, and it's really helped the mid-market become one of our fastest growing segments.
Within those new markets, we're also declaring more and more, brand by brand, that we're going to have partner-led territories. So for software, for example, around the world in the different markets we're laying out territories that are going to be partner led. And, we'll provide some technical resources and business development resources, and we'll do in-territory engagement with them to help them be successful.
The growth markets, about 120 countries, are another great example. We're going through tremendous geo[graphical] expansion in the growth markets and opening new branches at a faster pace. The vast majority of the transactional business in those branches will be fulfilled by partners.
And, MSPs are another good example. A very significant market shift for mid-market, small and medium businesses, and one where our partner community is playing a huge role. And, we're doing some really cool things around enablement and incentives and programs to help facilitate that.
Another [segment] is around new solution areas. I see a lot of partners moving into these high-value solution areas. It might be around analytics, it might be around the cloud, it might be around industry solutions. And, we see that happening very quickly. We feel as though we are pretty well positioned to help partners there.
In analytics, as an example, we've been doing a lot of enablement, and obviously we have a lot of products and offerings in that space. It's a key focus area for IBM. And, the number of partners that are going through our enablement and development and getting certifications is expanding dramatically. Last year, for instance, we doubled the number of business analytics certifications that we had in our partner community. We now have 15,000 [individuals, about 1,100 companies, certified].
Cloud is the same. We have about 1,000 partners now that are working with us on cloud engagements. The Smarter Cities [initiative] is another perfect example. Clearly, partners have the skills, have the contacts, have the customer insight to help really be successful in those marketplaces.
And then the third is offerings. We're going to continue to come out with offerings that are targeted for our business partner community. A great example is the PureSystems that we just announced. We expect PureFlex will be sold primarily by the business partner channel. And so, from the get-go, we've been thinking through how to do the development jointly with partners, how to design the incentives properly with partners, how to do the enablement with partners.
Even before the announcement, we had over 500 partners that had been trained on the PureSystem. And, over 125 ISVs had had the opportunity to work with a PureSystem and optimize their software, their solution, on the system.