IBM Corp. has broadly expanded its channel support program to focus on security, cloud and cognitive computing.
The expansions include more than 40 competencies that will help partners build expertise in high market growth areas, and an agreement with VMware Inc., that will allow partners to sell VMware packages running on the IBM cloud and a Watson-based tool to help partners find the resources they need quickly.
IBM’s investment in the program expansion, announced at its PartnerWorld conference this week, reflects the growing importance of its channel partners to its overall business. Partner-generated business in IBM’s strategic imperatives – cloud, cognitive, security, mobile and social – grew 13.5 percent year-over-year in 2016 and now accounts for 41 percent of IBM’s total revenue.
Partners were responsible for almost a third of Bluemix signings in the fourth quarter of 2016. Last year, PartnerWorld helped IBM channel partners complete 184,000 courses. Since introducing a redesigned program in January it has certified more than 5,000 partners in core business areas.
The portfolio expansion will add a competency in “information, risk and protection to protect customers’ critical information to its security portfolio. In the IBM Cloud section, it will add competencies in cloud video and high-speed transfer. In the Watson, Internet of Things area, it will add continuous engineering. It will also add a competency in IBM Global Financing.
The new agreement with VMware will allow business partners to provide a one-stop shop for clients who want to migrate their on-premise VMware platforms to the cloud. Channel partners will be able to provision pre-configured VMware Software Defined Data Center environments for customers, integrating VMware vSphere, vSAN, NSX and SDDC Manager.
IBM also introduced IBM PartnerWorld Advisor, a voice- and text-activated Watson-based support tool on the PartnerWorld portal, designed to make it easier for them to do business with IBM. In addition, it announced an embedded solutions agreement to make it easy for channel partners to build solutions on IBM technologies and services, a “Ready for IBM Cloud” validation to encourage ISVs to build cloud solutions on Bluemix, IBM Express Start to streamline on-boarding of new channel partners and enhanced software initiatives.
“Cloud, cognitive and cybersecurity are our strategic growth areas in the digital era,” said Jim Torney, chief executive of Essextec, a 22-year IBM business partner.