Cloud Connect: Partner Strategically For Cloud 'Ecosystem,' IBM Exec Says

The cloud is not monolithic, but a complex ecosystem where companies of all kinds are mixing and matching services to deliver the best services to their customers, Jan Jackman, vice president of Global Cloud Services for IBM, said Tuesday in a keynote at the Cloud Connect conference Tuesday.

Service providers, tech vendors, and potential cloud customers need to ask themselves how, in this mix, they can achieve the best value from the cloud, Jackman said.

"Where do you fit in in the cloud and who do you partner with to reach the best opportunities?" she asked. "How do you put together an ecosystem to deliver that value to the end customer?"

Jackman said the cloud has created five types of cloud providers, each offering specific services:

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* Cloud applications providers, that build applications and deliver them as a service;

* Cloud builders, or system integrators that put parts of the cloud together;

* Cloud infrastructure service providers, that provider infrastructure-as-a- service on a service delivery platform;

* Cloud solution providers, that may offer products such as CRM over the cloud;

* Cloud technology providers, that sell technology.

Jackman mentioned three of IBM's specialties -- as a technology provider offering software and hardware, as an infrastructure provider offering a service delivery platform, and as a service provider.

In one example, IBM, as an infrastructure service provider, partnered with cloud storage company Nirvanix in October to deliver cloud storage-as-a-service.

"We are able to deliver value very quickly by being able to pull partners in and deliver service," Jackman said.

Businesses need to judge how to create cloud services for the best benefit, Jackman said. "Enterprises are looking to use the cloud effectively," she said. "Who do you need to partner with?"

The boldest initiatives towards the cloud can result in the best outcomes, she said. "The companies that are disruptive players or which want to create a new value chain are the ones who monetize fastest," Jackman said.