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IBM has opened a new lab in the UK designed to help partners prepare and develop cloud-based solutions using IBM products and services and speed their time to market.

What the centers help partners to do is test business processes in the cloud, Sandy Carter head of IBM Software Group Business Partners and Midmarket, told Channel Insider.

“You don’t see a lot of core mission critical applications in the cloud,” she told Channel Insider. But plent of companies are outsourcing non-mission critical applications to the crowd, and such a move represents a prime opportunity for VARs and ISVs looking to capitalize on the changes ahead. The new center represents a way for partners to test proof of concept offerings.

IBM’s move comes in the midst of growing momentum of the cloud market, which analysts predict will grow from this year’s $68 billion market opportunity to more than double and reach $150 million in four years. A recent survey conducted by Big Blue also found that more that 90 percent of surveyed IT pros said they anticipate cloud to replace on-premise by 2015.

The new lab is located in the UK, but can be accessed virtually by IBM business partners at any of the 38 Innovation Centers around the globe. The lab is designed to help IBM partners not only develop and test cloud-based solutions, but also gain the sales and marketing know-how to pitch and capture cloud-related business.

“The new Cloud Computing Lab will help our partners gain the skills they need to build next generation business applications and services for the cloud using IBM technologies,”  said Jim Corgel, general manager, IBM ISV and Developer Relations.

So, what do business partners actually get by participating?

  • Hands on work with IBM cloud experts to build go-to-market plans
  • Identification and exploration of the optimal cloud computing model for individual solutions
  • Aid and guidance in building apps, technology and infrastructure for cloud environments
  • Consultation on becoming cloud resellers and aggregators, if desired.
  • On-site and virtual help from the recently acquired Cast Iron folks for connecting on-premise and cloud-computing environments for clients specifically in finance, healthcare, telco, energy and utilities.

IBM’s made it clear they want to own the cloud and that it is counting on its business partners to help solidify its positions. In addition to its various acquisitions—Cast Iron being a shining example—Big Blue has unleashed a series of products, series and funding to help build the market and offer tools to its business partners. Examples include IBM’s Cloud Service Provider Platform for telco clients, SmartBusiness Development & Test on the IBM Cloud and the introduction of IBM architecture cloud certifications for IT pros and IBM software partners.