IBM Power Systems GM Points Partners To Three Growth Drivers

“We're just continuing to share our strategy, co-create with the partners, get feedback, drive that into our roadmap,” IBM Power Systems GM Tom McPherson told CRN.

Solution providers working with IBM’s Power Systems can look forward to at least three growth drivers for the family of server computers – SAP HANA, banking and industry optimization and everything-as-a-service – with Power seeing double-digit growth through the ecosystem six out of the last eight quarters.

That’s according to Tom McPherson, Power Systems general manager for the Armonk, N.Y.-based vendor. McPherson (pictured above) told CRN in an interview that the explosion of data, growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) to make that data actionable and the need to secure AI workflows are all areas where Power excels.

“We're just continuing to share our strategy, co-create with the partners, get feedback, drive that into our roadmap,” he said.

[RELATED: IBM CEO Krishna: With AI, ‘Flexibility Of Deployment Is Key’]

IBM Power Systems

IBM has about 55,000 worldwide channel partners, 12,000 in North America, according to CRN’s 2023 Channel Chiefs. The vendor makes about 30 percent of its revenue from the channel.

McPherson put the number of Power partners in the thousands and expanding. Partners also drive the majority of Power revenue

“We're completely dedicated to investing in that ecosystem,” he said. “It's required. And Power is a team sport across our partners everywhere. … All the growth drivers I talked about and our strategy, we're developing them in a way that our partners can benefit from, add their own value.”

The Power roadmap includes upcoming memory enhancements, more flexible consumption, increased performance, enhanced encryption algorithms, more quantum-safe capabilities and a new entry-level server.

Ray Lee, vice president of managed services and support at Tallahassee, Fla.-based IBM partner Mainline Information Systems – a member of CRN’s 2023 MSP500 – told CRN in an interview that the MSP has seen a significant increase in its Power business since Power10 became generally available (GA) in 2021.

Mainline “has a large pipeline of customers that are still looking to upgrade and grow” this far after the Power10 launch, Lee said.

“The hybrid cloud is gonna be a big play for us with the Power brand, especially leading into 2024,” he said. “This idea of a hybrid cloud with power integrated into that cloud is really catching fire.”

A particular opportunity for Mainline has been the extension of Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Linux to the Power System “so it becomes more of an integrated solution to the environment,” Lee said.

In fact, he said he’d like to see even further integration between Red Hat and IBM in this area, with new Red Hat tools having the ability to run natively on Power. “We'd like to see it announced at the same time, available at the same time,” he said.

IBM Power Three Growth Drivers

McPherson said that IBM is the leading platform for HANA landscapes on-premises and in IBM Cloud. IBM’s offerings can help customers leverage the Rise with SAP managed cloud service for on-premises enterprise resource planning software and deliver flexible consumption models with reliability, resilience and security. The IBM GM said that Power has “orders of magnitude less vulnerabilities compared to x86” and is “42 percent faster in inferencing compared to x86.”

“We're seeing really good strength there with our thousands of clients for SAP,” he said.

In industry modernization, IBM wants to accelerate transformation through Red Hat OpenShift for IBM Power, McPherson said. Red Hat is a subsidiary of IBM.

Interoperability with independent software vendors (ISVs), IBM Cloud Paks and environments all serve as complements to that part of the business, he said. Partners should see “significant growth there.”

And when it comes to everything-as-a-service in Power, McPherson pointed solution providers to the Power Virtual Server offering on IBM Cloud.

“It's designed in a way to look like our clients’ on-prem deployments from a compute storage and network perspective,” he said. “It's more like a lower-friction lift to cloud. Then clients can live in cloud and on-prem in what we call a frictionless hybrid cloud motion.”

Client investments are protected with hybrid cloud credits usable for on-premises or the IBM Cloud to provide more flexible consumption for customers, he said.

In partner recruitment, McPherson said that he wants strong SAP partners. In modernization, IBM solution providers working with Watsonx might find a complementary practice with Power.

“We're a platform that's advantaged in AI,” he said. “We see that as an area that we want to grow and we are growing.”

McPherson said he has seen a strong interest in AI foundation model deployment with Power10 and then leveraging Watsonx software to embed the models into applications. “We have clients that are training and deploying machine learning models as part of a single studio solution within Power10,” he said. “We're going to start looking for these patterns and then start building out our go-to-market leveraging these patterns as we go forward.”

During IBM’s most recent quarterly earnings call, the vendor’s executives revealed that distributed infrastructure, which includes Power and storage, grew 7 percent year over year. IBM’s infrastructure segment grew 2 percent year over year to $4.6 billion.