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IBM is making a bigger push into the public sector with its latest cloud partnerships. The company announced five new major cloud partners that serve the U.S. federal government and a First Responder Application Challenge to develop predictive analytic and mobile solutions to help first responders.

Part of the reason for IBM’s big push is the lack of cloud adoption by the federal government despite a sizeable proposed budget for cloud computing. IBM points to IDC estimates that only about  6 percent of federal applications run in the cloud, despite the administration’s proposed fiscal 2016 budget estimates that about $7.3 billion will be slated for cloud computing.

Four of the five new partners are leading global IT distributors, all with a big stake in serving the public sector. IBM signed new partnership deals with four distributors—Arrow, Avnet Government Solutions, Ingram Micro and Tech Data—and ViON, which provides an on-premises private cloud on-demand solution.

The new partners will combine and bundle their solutions with IBM cloud, and help partners sell IBM’s FedRAMP-certified SoftLayer federal cloud. Their jobs will be to focus on delivering hybrid cloud solutions to federal agencies.

The FedRAMP program, designed in part to help drive cloud adoption, provides a standardized approach for the security of cloud products and services. IBM offers a portfolio of FedRAMP-compliant services, and partners will have access to Bluemix, IBM’s Cloud platform and IBM’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) portfolio. 

“Federal agencies are really beginning to view cloud as transformational, but first they need a reliable partner to help them get started,” Anne Altman, IBM general manager for U.S. Federal, said in a statement. “With our partners, we have a strong understanding of the IT investments agencies have made, and how to help them with their migrations to cloud in a secure and strategic way.”

As a result, it was critical that the new partners already have a strong foothold in cloud services for the public sector to resell and market IBM Cloud Services. The four distributor partners already have specialized services in place and continue to make investments in this sector.

As an example, Arrow helps partners integrate IBM’s Cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) into their products and services, and earlier this year acquired immixGroup, a value-added distributor focused on a commercial value-add cloud model for the public sector.

Avnet also continues to make investments in serving the federal government. Avnet Government Solutions recently opened an office in the Washington, D.C., area, together with making further investments in public-sector capabilities. This is coupled with more than 30 years of IBM expertise, and the recently launched Avnet Cloud Marketplace, which is designed to be a one-stop shop offering a wide range of cloud solutions, flexible payment models and a cloud management toolset.

Ingram Micro also recently enhanced its cloud program with several major additions to its Cloud Marketplace portfolio, including IBM Cloud Infrastructure. Like the other distributors, Ingram Micro offers cloud on-boarding capabilities, partner enablement, marketing support, and end-to-end technical and operational support to its channel partners focused on building cloud solutions.

Similarly, Tech Data expanded its cloud business earlier this year with several additions to its TDCloud product portfolio, the distributor’s end-to-end provisioning, billing and marketing platform for solution providers.

ViON offers an on-premises private cloud On-Demand solution. The company’s Service Delivery Framework (a portal service) is used for ordering, delivering and provisioning technology-based capacity services at customers’ data centers. When the solution is integrated with IBM Cloud bare-metal servers, it provides additional control and enhanced performance predictability for clients, said IBM.

Also in a drive to push cloud adoption in the federal market, as part of the First Responder Application Challenge, IBM and its partner Vencore, in collaboration with USGIF and APCO, have developed an application ecosystem that enables the development and delivery of predictive analytics and mobile applications, designed to improve the operational capability of first responders. The application must be built and delivered on the cloud, and apply data and innovation to solve real-world problems, said IBM. It also has to be a fully functioning app installed and running on Bluemix or Vencore’s Intelligent Data Exploitation and Analytics System.

Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributor, focuses on technology and the channel.