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IBM Partners: New Investments Will Ease Complex Cloud Migrations, Drive Growth

Big Blue is expanding access to its Cloud Engagement Fund for all partner types. ‘There’s a tremendous opportunity for IBM to advance channel-neutral sales programs which open accounts and generate leads for partners to augment and advance IBM’s sales capabilities,’ says John Longmire, chief revenue officer at Boston-based IBM partner Ironside.

New investments IBM introduced Tuesday as it moves to deliver on its promise to spend $1 billion to boost its cloud ecosystem will give the channel a leg up on more complex cloud work, solution providers said.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based tech giant is expanding access to its Cloud Engagement Fund to all partner types, opening up a bevy of technical resources and cloud credits to help partners migrate customer workloads to hybrid cloud environments.

John Longmire, chief revenue officer at Boston-based IBM partner Ironside, said any investments to help partners with go-to-market approaches and sales alignment are wins.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity for IBM to advance channel-neutral sales programs which open accounts and generate leads for partners to augment and advance IBM’s sales capabilities,” Longmire said.

The enhancements to IBM’s partner program were made at Think 2021, a conference focused on hybrid cloud and AI.

“There’s never been a better time to be in IBM’s ecosystem,” David La Rose, general manager of IBM’s partner ecosystem, told CRN in an earlier interview. “There’s $1 billion that is in the market today, and that is only going to help them (partners) to get to revenue faster and sooner.”

The new offerings to channel partners include an expansion of Cloud Engagement Fund for technical resources and cloud credits to help partners migrate customer workloads to hybrid cloud environments to all partner types, whether they build on, service, sell or resell IBM goods and services, a new competency framework for partners to show technical expertise and success in areas such as hybrid cloud infrastructure, automation and security and new partner benefits include co-creation client centers and proof-of-concept incentives.

The 10 new competencies, focused on channel partners in IBM’s “Build” and “Service” tracks, are Migrate SAP to IBM Cloud (Service), AI Powered Automation for IT Ops (Build), AI Powered Business Automation (Build), AI Powered Automation for IT Ops (Service), AI Powered Business Automation (Service), Be Anywhere with IBM Cloud Satellite (Service), Deliver IBM Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure (Service), Accelerate the Journey to AI (Build), Accelerate the Journey to AI (Service) and Zero Trust Security (Service).

Mark Wyllie, CEO of Boca Raton, Fla.-based IBM Gold business partner Flagship Solutions Group, said that connecting more partners with technical partner architects and services should help when communicating with customers on how to achieve customer goals.

“Customers want not only someone who knows what they want but who can explain what they can get done,” Wyllie told CRN.

Wyllie said it shows IBM is thinking of partners in the midmarket and not just the largest global system integrators with the new investments.

[Related: IBM Exec: ‘There’s Never Been A Better Time To Be’ A Partner]

The new competencies also have Wyllie’s interest. Having invested in separating his company from the pack of IBM partners by achieving competencies and certifications around cloud, automation and security, he said he’ll invest the time and money needed to show clients Flagship is a leader in new certifications around those areas.

Wyllie said that he “definitely” sees “a bigger push and more focused programs with funding behind partners” five months after IBM said it would spend $1 billion on its partner ecosystem.

But he awaits more communication from IBM on how to best access the new partner benefits. “We need more information, down to the execution level, on how easy it will all be to take advantage of,” he said.

And while IBM Silver partner Connection is more focused on growing with its Microsoft, Google Cloud and AWS lines of business this year, the Merrimack, N.H.-based company’s chief growth and innovation officer told CRN that IBM needed to expand technical resources available for channel partners of varying sizes and markets.

“This is a basic channel program that IBM should have. So it is good to see IBM put these motions into the channel,” Jamal Khan said.

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