One day after Apple and IBM unveiled a historic partnership to push mobile solutions into the enterprise, solution providers working with the tech giants are seeking details on how -- or if-- they will be able to participate in the landmark deal.
The agreement, which is being billed as an exclusive partnership, signals enormous strides in the enterprise space for both companies as Apple mobile devices would be sold by IBM to business customers, backed with customized "built-for-business" applications.
While it is clear that IBM plans to involve an ecosystem of ISVs and developers to build applications for its new IBM MobileFirst for iOS platform, neither company has confirmed plans to offer sales and services opportunities for the offerings through channel partners.
Solution providers for both companies unanimously agree the partnership announced between Apple and IBM could have massive potential and is positive for both sides, but would also be extremely great news for their partners in the channel, which is why they hope to get a cut of the deal.
"I hope the goal for [Apple] is not to do this exclusively through IBM and cutout their business partners, who have been going to work for them year after year after year, but strange times. You never know," said Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based Apple and IBM partner, No. 266 on CRN's Solution Provider 500.
Apple has historically struggled to support enterprise customers, Venero said.
"As you look at Apple as a company, one of the challenges we've seen in the past with those guys is their ability to support the enterprise, especially through the channel. Hopefully this will be a very big opportunity to offset those challenges," Venero said.
Some IBM partners expressed confidence that the company will let them come to its Apple mobile party, particularly as the vendor works to deliver mobile solutions to the midmarket.
"We have not been contacted," said Dan Bivona, sales director for Vormittag Associates Inc. (VAI), a major IBM business partner. "I'm imagining that they are looking at the enterprise business partners. Of course there is always the concern they won't go through the channel, but what we've always found with IBM is they really do count on their partners. 80 to 90 percent of their product come through the channel for the mid-sized customer. Traditionally that is what IBM has done. Without a doubt they will announce they will go through the partnerships. That's really where they want to be."
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