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For solution providers looking to tap into the lucrative
cloud computing and business analytics technology practices, IBM is offering a
helping hand.

The company announced two new programs for solution
providers to help them build their businesses in cloud computing and business
analytics at its IBM PartnerWorld 2011 conference in Orlando, Fla.

To help partners tap into this emerging market – an IBM
developerWorks survey found that 91 percent of IT professionals believe cloud
computing will overtake on-premise by 2015 – IBM announced the launch of its
IBM Cloud Computing Specialty.

“Seeing as this is such a big opportunity – estimated to
grow to just under $150 billion by 2014 — 
what we’ve tried to do is identify key business models and key partner
models and then structure our program around them,” said Dave Mitchell, director, Strategy & Emerging Business, ISV and
Developer Relations, at IBM.

The program breaks partners into five types, defined by
their cloud business models. Cloud Application Providers deliver business
applications through the cloud, like software as a service. Cloud Builders
design, build and manage clients’ cloud infrastructure by integrating existing
infrastructure with public, private and/or hybrid clouds. Cloud Infrastructure
Providers provide public cloud infrastructure to host third party cloud
offerings. Cloud Services Solution Providers resell public cloud services
bundled with their own services. Cloud Technology Providers provide tools and
technologies to help customers manage their cloud deployments more efficiently.

The specialty will help solution providers by providing
them a single program that they can go to in order to understand how to work
with IBM around the cloud, Mitchell said.

“Our partners say help me understand how best to work
with you to win in the market with the clients.

When they get frustrated is when they get multiple
answers to the same question about IBM,” he said. “This is an opportunity for
them to have a single program, they can come take advantage of this program and
it will clearly lay out for them what skills they need to develop and what
revenue and business models they can build.”

Members get sales enablement resources including IBM
relationship managers, updates on the company’s cloud strategy and roadmap,
business development funds and invitations to IBM business development
workshops.

"IBM software is at the core of our cloud-based
supply chain collaboration platform for the retail industry," said Chris
Clinton, senior vice president, global channel management, TradeCard, said in a
statement.  "The value of the IBM Cloud Specialty is immense as we
now have assigned IBM support to help us with technical, sales and marketing
resources while also getting insider access to IBM’s cloud roadmap."

IBM also launched a new business analytics software
solution for the midmarket. IBM Cognos Express Planner is designed and priced
for midmarket customers to help them with business planning and forecasting.

“Business analytics is another major area of focus for us
and an area where we are very reliant on the partner channel to go after the
midmarket. Ninety-five percent of our analytics engagements in the midmarket
are done through the channel,” Mitchell said.

IBM also plans to help partners with client opportunities
by offering new training courses focused on business analytics technologies through
its IBM Innovation Centers. “We’ll be providing resources and education for partners
that have specific opportunities with midmarket clients,” Mitchell said. “Really
giving our partners hands on support to help them in analytics deals with
clients.”

Mitchell said IBM sees analytics as a huge opportunity
for solution providers.

“The fact that so few companies, particularly midmarket
companies, take advantage of analytics today, we think this is an enormous and
growing opportunity for us,” he said.