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IBM partners say time for new channel model

Channel StrategyCloudSoftwareIBM Smarter Computing, Cloud, SaaS, channel

IBM hosted a Twitter chat on the “Future of the Channel” with channel leaders and observers.  Their main finding: the old channel model is broken.

Panellist John McDonald, CEO, chairman and president of CloudOne, an Indianapolis-based SaaS provider, said the way the channel works today with vendors working with value added distributors to reach solution providers has got to go.

“The old ‘order of things’ from vendors (like IBM) to VAD’s (like Avnet) to very local solution providers has completely broken down, and now everyone’s providing direct solutions to as broad of an audience as they can,” McDonald said to a crowd composed of tech analysts, marketers and channel partners.

This came in response to a question that asked panellists, made up of Dave Carlquist, vice-president of worldwide channels, systems and technology group at IBM, McDonald, Nicole Del Mastro, director of marketing at CloudOne, John Alday CEO of Cima Solutions Group, and Michael Bonamassa, president of Blue Agility, a consulting firm, about the biggest challenges they have seen in the channel in the last two to three years.

Members of the panel supplied a few reasons for why the current model is broken, along with a case for a new model based solely on cloud computing.

“The cloud is driving the removal of deployment delays and moving solutions to near real-time deployments,” said Bonamassa.  “We are seeing much more focus for DevOps automation services and consulting.”

This sentiment was echoed by John Furrier who also participated in the Twitter chat. Furrier, a Forbes technology writer, and founder and editor in chief of the SiliconANGLE Network, said that channel partners have indicated that services revenue is actually increasing because of cloud.

Meanwhile, Alday says that there is a need to develop sales and consulting skills that would prosper in a value-added cloud brokerage model.

McDonald added that software-as-a-service (SaaS) is bringing partners in closer contact with clients.

“It’s removing layers from the channel that have existed since the start, and putting partners on the line to deliver value directly, daily, without fail,” he said.

While several panelists agreed, there was no consensus on how to ensure an easy transition for the channel. As Bonamassa described, many partners do not understand the SaaS and cloud models today, which results in a pushback on innovation.

One major opportunity that both cloud and SaaS present for the channel is the ability to reign in shadow IT.  According to Furrier, shadow IT is running rampant because of a high demand for open technologies.

“Channel partners have opportunity to reign in the Shadow IT and be the ‘new mechanics’ for big iron converged infrastructure and cloud service brokering.”

Bonamassa believes the channel is getting broader by necessity.  “What I mean is the nature of solutions are more composite crossing traditional business lines.”