IBM Backs Cloud, Analytics Channel Partners with New Specialty, Resources, Software

Vendor arms channel partners for growth opportunities in cloud computing and business analytics.

February 18, 2011

D.H. Kass

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IBM Corp. said that it is urging channel partners to pursue sales opportunities in cloud computing and business analytics with a new cloud partner specialty, a raft of marketing and sales resources, a cloud authorization for software resellers and new financial planning analytics software.

The vendor unwrapped its Cloud Computing Specialty --a segmenting of its channel partners into five functional designations based on cloud capabilities--Tuesday at its PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Orlando, FL.

“The real opportunities for channel partners are around cloud computing and business analytics,” said Mike Riegel, IBM vice president, ISVs and Developer Relations.

IBM wants to help partners build private cloud implementations for their clients, develop infrastructure and platform services and craft business solutions in the cloud space, he said.

The vendor’s approach to business analytics is to pump momentum into a rising tide of interest among midmarket businesses. IBM’s internal research indicates that 70 percent of midmarket business leaders are interested in incorporating analytics into their decision-making process.

Some 700 channel partners deliver the lion’s share of IBM’s business analytics solutions to midmarket accounts, a roster Riegel said figures to grow rapidly as solutions take hold among mid-sized businesses. Another 300 channel partners deliver the vendor’s business analytics technology to enterprise-class accounts, he said.

Cloud specialty validates partner expertise

With its new Cloud Specialty, IBM houses under one banner its marketing, sales and enablement programs for channel partners that attain one or more cloud classifications from among five-- application provider, builder, infrastructure provider, services solution provider and technology provider.

IBM’s intention with its Cloud Specialty is to properly arm and promote its top cloud partners, Riegel said.

“We’ve set the bar high because client expectations for quality are very high,” he said. “We have harnessed the experience we have from thousands and thousands of client engagements on cloud computing,” he said.

By the vendor’s definitions, cloud application providers deliver business applications under subscription; cloud builders design, build and manage clients’ cloud needs; cloud infrastructure providers deliver Platform-as-a-Service for application providers and companies to host their offerings; cloud services solution providers resell public cloud services; and, cloud technology providers offer management, billing, metering and monitoring to help clients use the cloud more effectively.

To achieve a particular designation, partners must meet skills, revenue and customer reference criteria, complete training, attain certain sales and technical certifications and demonstrate deployment of the cloud solution.

Channel partners self select the path in which to specialize, Riegel said. More than one designation can be achieved, although some overlap exists among the various types, he said.

In return for their investment—which is governed by PartnerWorld program level--channel partners receive a specialty mark and updates on IBM’s cloud computing strategy. Additional benefits such as access to a dedicated support representative, business development funds, a business development workshop, and a sales enablement kit are tied to specific cloud specialties.

The cloud specialty is available now, IBM said.

TradeCard, an IBM Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider that offers a cloud-based supply chain collaboration platform for the retail industry, praised the benefits associated with the cloud specialty.

"The value of the IBM Cloud Specialty is immense as we now have assigned IBM support to help us with technical, sales and marketing resources while also getting insider access to IBM's cloud roadmap," said Chris Clinton, TradeCard senior vice president, global channel management.

New cloud authorization for software resellers

IBM also debuted its initial Cloud Computing Authorization for software resellers, aimed at those partners commanding special cloud-related skills and intended as an extension of its Software Value Plus program.

“Software partners have a critical role to play in cloud computing,” Riegel said. “The authorization enables them to achieve additional financial incentives,” he said.

To qualify, candidates must pass two cloud computing certification tests, provide a cloud offering with multiple IBM technologies, show successful client implementations, and sell a broad range of IBM cloud computing offerings.

Benefits include cloud computing-related sales leads and access to joint planning meetings with IBM sales teams, the vendor said.

IBM will begin open enrollment for the authorization in May, 2011, the company said.

New Cognos analytics software

IBM said it has new analytics software in tow, the IBM Cognos Express Planner, a financial planning application to enable mid-sized businesses to gain a more automated and collaborative approach to performance gaps, budgets, resources, and profit and growth insights.

“There are 700 channel partners who provide analytics solutions today that will take advantage of this,” Riegel said.

Indeed, ISA Consulting, a Philadelphia, PA-based provider of business intelligence and performance management solutions, said that using IBM’s business analytics software, it saved client Concept One Accessories, a mid-sized, New York City-based provider of fashion, sports and entertainment accessories, two weeks of time each quarter typically spent on manual data input and analysis.

“With IBM analytics software we can help our mid-market clients completely automate their planning process, enabling business users to define and deploy new planning, budgeting and forecasting applications in minutes without any IT assistance,” said Chris Ferrara, ISA Consulting vice president, business intelligence practice.

“By reducing planning cycles by as much as 75 percent on average, our clients can quickly align resources and take advantage of sudden market shifts to grow their business,” he said.

To support its business analytics channel partners, IBM is supplementing its 40 Innovation Centers worldwide with additional training, certification-related materials, customer seminars with partners, partner-to-partner networking opportunities, industry-specific analytics networking sessions and more lab capabilities including live demonstrations, Riegel said.

TAGS: cloud computing,IBM,business analytics,channel partner,midmarket

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