IBM Encourages Channel to Look to the Cloud Future
In the wake of IBM's latest financial results, it's clear that the pace at which the major transformation in Big Blue's business model is taking place is becoming a cause for concern.
While IBM's profit and revenue fell largely due to a 23 percent drop in hardware sales, the mixed bag news is that software sales continue to grow and that IT services sales dropped only slightly despite the sharp drop of in hardware revenue.
After becoming IBM's new channel chief a little more than 100 days ago, Marc Dupaquier, general manager for global business partners at IBM, said that as the transformation to more reliance on cloud computing services continues the issues that IBM is facing will play out all across the channel.
While cloud computing is going to be hybrid for the foreseeable future, Dupaquier said that as time evolves, solution providers will find themselves increasingly leveraging technologies such as RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs) to compose rather than build solutions. Facilitating that process, said Dupaquier, is why IBM is investing so heavily in its BlueMix cloud integration platform.
The challenge that creates for the solution provider, said Dupaquier, is that rather than having a skill set around a particular technology or product brand solution, providers will need to have competencies that are defined by solution skill sets or business processes.
As part of a broad set of initiatives available to enable that, the SoftLayer business unit of IBM has moved to streamline its channel program, adding sales enablement tools, and also improving the overall profit margins of the resellers of IBM cloud services.
Naturally, different solution providers are at various levels of maturity when it comes to making that transition. Yet, one thing is for sure: If solution providers want to emerge as the trusted broker in the cloud, they need to start thinking more about the value they create for a customer by enabling a business outcome rather than how many particular units of hardware and software they delivered in the latest quarter.
Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.