Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

From a channel perspective, mobile computing has always been a challenge because the acquiring of the devices and services is most often direct. But in the wake of the far-reaching mobile alliance this week between IBM and Apple, the mobile playing field for the channel just became a little more level.

Under the terms of the agreement with Apple, IBM will market the devices it resells from Apple and the applications that run on them both direct and through the channel. For IBM partners such as PointSource, a provider of mobile apps built on top of the IBM Worklight application development platform, the ability to deploy and provision Apple devices via IBM helps them create a more unified customer experience.

“From a client perspective, we can now pre-load applications onto the device as it is delivered,” said Stephanie Trunzo, chief creative officer for PointSource. “That opens up everything, from provisioning the device to providing support.”

In addition, through IBM, the solution provider can significantly expand its application portfolio and customer reach via application stores managed by both IBM and Apple, she said.

Most of the applications that PointSource develops run in a hybrid mode on the mobile platform being supported, Trunzo said. Because IBM Worklight is a full-blown integrated development environment, Point Source has the option of developing a native or HTML5 application in any language it wants. That flexibility, Trunzo said, is one of the primary reasons Point Source chose to standardize on the IBM Worklight platform in the first place.

Phil Buckellew, vice president of enterprise mobile for IBM, said the opportunity for the channel goes far beyond building, deploying and managing mobile apps. In the context of an enterprise, every one of those apps needs to be integrated with a cloud service such as IBM Bluemix or an enterprise application running on premise. Many of those enterprise apps, however, were designed to be run in a batch mode, which makes them unsuitable for servicing the needs of mobile end users who want to access the latest application data in real time.

Therefore, the need to re-engineer those enterprise apps at a time when mobile and cloud computing have converged creates a significant long-term opportunity for both IBM and its channel partners, Buckellew said.

In addition, the ability to embed analytics—along with providing governance and security for those applications via the cloud—creates opportunities that will generate recurring revenue for years, he said.

“People don’t appreciate just how big a pain point mobile really is for the enterprise,” Buckellew said. “What will make this alliance truly great is the collaboration between two companies with complementary consumer and enterprise expertise to solve those problems.”

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.