IBM Says Channel Partners Have 3 Cloud Opportunities

Here's the quandary: IBM is a massive technology company with big cloud computing ambitions. But can Big Blue provide cloud guidance to smaller VARs, MSPs and aspiring cloud integrators? Sandy Carter, VP, IBM Software Group Business Partners and Midmarket, says absolutely yes. In fact, Carter sees three distinct cloud computing opportunities for partners. And the company is hosting cloud workshops to help partners become cloud integrators.

First up, Carter says partners can focus on cloud architecture services, helping end-customers to decide whether to deploy private or public clouds or hybrid clouds, while assisting with the stepping stones along the way. IBM has set up a certification to assist partners in delivering such services.

Second, Carter says partners should focus most heavily on private cloud opportunities -- such as checking to see if a customer has multi-tenancy and provisioning resources to leverage.

Third, Carter says, take a look at the public cloud -- but keep your expectations under control. Despite all the public cloud hype, Carter says private cloud is where the big projects for channel partners reside. Still, on the public cloud front, she points partners to opportunities like Lotus Live.

Cloud Education

For partners that need to study up on cloud computing, IBM has launched the Cool Cloud Cash Workshop. Also, IBM has introduced a Cloud Computing Lab in Hursley, England -- which is accessible worldwide via the cloud. The lab, Carter says, can help partners to master issues around scalability, security and multi-tenancy.

On the security front, IBM is striving to address partner and end-customer concerns through efforts like the Security Cross-Capability Authorization, which helps partners to master holistic security best practices.

No Apparent Conflicts?

Overall, IBM's cloud strategy sounds partner-friendly. While some VARs and MSPs worry about big direct-to-customer efforts from Google and Microsoft, I don't hear the same type of concern from IBM partners.

Still, it's relatively early in the cloud game. We'll be watching to see how IBM balances its own cloud initiatives (especially within IBM Global Services) and channel cloud initiatives. Plus, we'll be measuring Lotus Live's progress vs. Microsoft Office 365 (the forthcoming successor to Business Productivity Online Suite, BPOS) and Google Apps.

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