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Six key partner take-aways from IBM Edge

Tom Rosamilia, senior vice-president, IBM systems and technology group

LAS VEGAS IBM Corp.’s Edge conference brought over 4900 attendees to Sin City to learn more about IBM’s hardware business, including 25 Canadian c-level executives and 63 Canadian partners representing 23 different firms.

The focus of the conference was IBM’s vision for a modern data centre, one able to handle the converging trends of big data, mobility and cloud computing. We asked IBM executives and channel partners for their key Edge takeaways and lessons they’ll be taking back to apply to their own businesses.

Tom Rosamilia, senior vice-president, IBM systems and technology group: According to IBM’s latest CEO survey, Rosamilia said a significant shift has taken place in the market. No longer is reducing cost the top priority for CEOs; now, it’s using technology to grow their businesses.

“They see the opportunity and they want to embrace it. Two years ago it was all about cost,” said Rosamilia.

There’s growing interest in cloud computing and big data coming from the c-suite, and to be able to deliver, Rosamilia said IT needs to get the infrastructure right first.

“This foundation has to be solid where we build our house,” said Rosamilia.

Matt Vasey, senior director of SI alliances for Parallels: “The depth and breadth of the PartnerWorld program surprised me. Even our clients can benefit, and get incentives to drive additional value to their customers,” said Vassey. “I also learned more about (IBM’s proposed acquisition of) SoftLayer. We’re very excited about that acquisition. We think it will add a lot of capabilities to IBM’s already rich platform.”

Jeff Robbins, senior account executive, Solutions II: “I’ve sat with clients and the comments were around the agility IBM has,” said Robbins. “In the past (IT infrastructure) was perceived as big iron and big costs. Now they’re viewing it as generating revenue and responding to market changes quicker. IBM is (presenting) things differently. People are now thinking how do I generate revenue with this, how do I become a market innovator.”

Jeff Guenthner, director of storage and cloud, CMI: Going into Edge, IBM’s solution accelerator was an important learning for CMI. The program rewards partners that package both IBM software and solutions into a solution, and Guenthner it has already proven rewarding for CMI. At Edge, he was listening closely to messaging around virtual storage in the data centre with flash.

“It’s astonishing that 75 per cent of clients don’t virtualize their storage. That’s (the opportunity) we’re after, and disaster recovery solutions,” said Guenthner. “We’re having client discussions two or three times a week about how do I get out of backup and move to the cloud, or architect my solution to do it better. Backup runs like an app and it doesn’t work. Over the next 24-36 months we see significant returns there.”

David Newbould, MSP business leader for Azlan SDG: “The trend in the market is around thinking smarter. We go through phases in the storage industry. There was a period where you could buy your way out of trouble,” said Newbould “Now we’re in a phase where we need to work smarter, with new technology. Creating solutions and streamlined platforms is what I’ve seen.”

Laura Voglino, vice-president, channels and routes transformation, IBM: While IBM is offering special incentives for partners around its new FlashSystem offerings, Voglino said more important to growing partner business in this area is IBM’s investment in ISVs that bring specialized expertise to the platform, such as customizations for specific verticals, that can help resellers bring flash to their clients.

“We’re investing to build an ecosystem,” said Voglino. “They help to optimize the platform and provide a richer solution. Incentives are more and more a smaller piece of the puzzle.”