IBM Expands Joint Cloud And AI Offerings With VMware, Microsoft

‘Our goal is to make the IBM Cloud proposition the best on the planet,’ IBM Cloud GM Alan Peacock tells CRN.


Solution providers partnered with IBM and VMware stand to benefit from a series of joint offerings, including a managed service for cyber recovery, VMware Cloud editions on IBM Cloud and multi-tenancy for IBM Cloud for VMware as a Service – while IBM’s consulting wing has expanded its artificial intelligence partnership with Microsoft.

These partnerships speak to IBM’s open organization strategy to meet clients where they are at while still investing in technological advancements within, Alan Peacock, IBM Cloud general manager, told CRN in an interview.

“Our goal is to make the IBM Cloud proposition the best on the planet, but we’re also a more open organization than historically,” Peacock said. “If clients have a preference to go run some of this stuff on another provider or on-prem, then we’re going to make that available. I think that that is definitely, on an IBM level, a differentiator for us.”

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Peacock, who joined IBM in 2021 after serving as HSBC’s global head of IT infrastructure, said that he as a client would not “want to be forced down a certain route.”

“I want to have options that fit with my business model,” he said.

The VMware managed cyber recovery offering is already generally available (GA), while VMware Cloud editions on IBM Cloud will become GA in the coming weeks and VMaaS Multi-Tenant will become GA within the next 60 days.

The two vendors announced the joint offerings during VMware Explore 2023, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company’s annual conference, which runs Monday to Thursday in Las Vegas.

[RELATED: VMware vSphere Vs. AWS Outposts Vs. Azure Stack: Private Cloud Face-Off]

IBM Partnerships

The news comes days after Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM expanded a partnership between its consulting wing and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft with the goal of accelerating generative artificial intelligence (AI) deployment.

Bo Gebbie, CEO of Hamel, Minn.-based solution provider Evolving Solutions, No. 135 on CRN’s 2023 Solution Provider 500 and a partner of all three vendors, told CRN in a recent interview that security is in high demand from his customers and that he’s invested in security offerings from vendors including Microsoft, IBM and CrowdStrike.

IBM continuing to integrate with other technologies and tools is helpful to partners such as Evolving Solutions, Gebbie said.

“That’s key for us because as we look at all of our practices, our portfolios, we want to make sure that we’re not almost sponsoring vendor lock-in for our clients,” he said. “We want to have the right solution for the right problem for our client. And if that’s IBM, great. If it’s not great. But we want to make sure they have options and that it fits within their entire ecosystem. And it’s something that they can build upon.”

IBM And VMware

Users can now use IBM Cloud Cyber Recovery (ICCR) as a managed service for data backup and recovery across cloud environments and combine it with VMware’s virtualization model to maintain compliance controls and data resiliency with security workloads, according to IBM.

In the coming weeks, users will have access to a partner-managed VMware Cross-Cloud service, with IBM the first public cloud provider to launch such an offering.

Users will have access to a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-validated framework-aligned hybrid cloud for migrating workloads between on-premises and IBM Cloud environments, according to IBM.

The vendor promises lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for on-premises environments- and the ability for fast application building and modernization while addressing security and industry compliance requirements.

The cloud-managed multi-tenant vCloud Director offering coming to IBM Cloud for VMware as a Service (VMaaS) coming within the next 60 days promises users the ability to leverage apps in a shared environment and tailoring app instances based on business needs.

Users will have built-in maintenance, upgrades, monitoring and security controls from residing in an IBM Cloud management plane, according to IBM.

Peacock told CRN that cyber resiliency and multi-tenancy was a demand from clients. While single-tenancy works for larger clients, this new offering provides more ways for clients to consume the offerings, including with smaller, granular workloads at a better price, he said.

It’s also helpful for clients developing and testing workloads, he said.

It “opens up this market for a much broader spectrum of clients that we can bring on board,” he said.

IBM is the largest VMware Cloud partner and that the announcements are good for solution providers because they simplify cloud migration for clients, he said.

Rajeev Bhardwaj, VMware’s vice president and general manager of cloud service providers, told CRN in an interview that some of the benefits of the joint offerings include greater consistency, flexibility in commercial models and speeding up the process of application modernization.

Customers should have the ability to “focus less on the infrastructure because that’s being delivered by IBM, while they focus more on delivering outcomes around the stack. So they focus more on developer and data services (with a) flexible consumption model, cloud operating model. … As a customer, I can focus more on business outcomes on top.”

Solution providers can look forward to more joint offerings from the two vendors, particularly related to AI and machine learning (ML) and desktops for regulated environments, Bhardwaj said.

IBM And Microsoft

On Thursday, IBM said its Consulting Azure OpenAI Service offering became available in the Azure Marketplace. The fully managed AI service promises developers and data scientists the ability to use large language models (LLMs) that power generative AI. And users gain access to IBM Consulting’s 21,000 data, AI and experience professionals.

Some joint IBM-Microsoft use cases with AI include combining Microsoft Power Platform and Azure OpenAI Service to automate sourcing and payment processes; an information retrieval tool that can find data across an organization; personalizing content for bank customers through AI-generated summaries; and automatically ingesting and analyzing complex medical records and policy documents.

IBM Consulting has more than 40,000 Azure certifications, according to the vendor. It also has a Center of Excellence for generative AI with more than 1,000 consultants trained on enterprise-grade AI technology from Microsoft, IBM and other vendors plus methodology such as the IBM Garage for Generative AI.