Partners Cheer IBM CEO Rometty's Cloud Charge

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Speaking at IBM's PartnerWorld Leadership Conference 2014 Tuesday in Las Vegas, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told 1,500 global partners that they faced three tectonic shifts in IT, starting with data. "Think of data as the new natural resource for the world. It's unlimited, but you only get value if you refine it. Second is cloud, which is about process or IT delivered as a service. Third is engagement, and with the client it's social, mobile and security."

Rometty's message resonated with channel partners, who said that IBM, while late to the cloud, has amassed an impressive arsenal: homegrown technologies including "Jeopardy"-winning supercomputer Watson, the key mobile acquisition of Fiberlink, and the $2 billion buy of SoftLayer to help it take on Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

"It was a breath of fresh air to hear Ginni talk cloud. I've been an IBM partner for 29 years and I've never heard her so bullish on cloud and right on the money about steering IBM in the right direction. A lot is on the line for IBM, but also for my company and partners. There is a lot of reward for partners that can pivot to the cloud fast. We see our partnership with IBM as a big win-win," said Warren Tait, sales director for TrustSphere, a New York-based IBM cloud and big data partner.

Rometty said IBM has invested $24 billion in recent years in big data analytics -- $17 billion on 30 acquisitions and $7 billion on organic development, both of which helped grow big data analytics into a $16 billion business for IBM in 2013.

"You are a part of us. You are 20 percent of our revenue, 30 percent of our software, and over 50 percent of our systems business and represent almost half of our Smarter Planet references," Rometty told partners.

NEXT: Partners On Board With Transformation

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