IBM today led off its PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, attended by an estimated 1,500 partners, with news of a new application development cloud and other goodies for its partners, with the goal of spurring them to action around the "third platform" technologies -- cloud computing, big data, mobile computing and social networking – as well around Watson and security.
Highlighting the list of announcements from IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference 2014 are the Power Development Platform, an app dev cloud that gives developers free access to IBM Power Systems for building, porting and testing applications; the "Ready for Smarter Commerce" program, a framework that gives customers access to hardware and software products that have been built by IBM Business Partners and validated for cloud, mobile and social uses; changes to the PartnerWorld program that reward sales of cloud-delivered products and services; and the FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution, which combines IBM's virtualization software with an all-flash array.
Application development help
The Power Development Platform is available to developers around the globe and features access to the Power7 and Power7+ servers running Linux, AIX and IBM I operating systems, according to IBM. The company said that Linux developers in particular will benefit from the platform. The Power Development Platform includes a new Linux porting image with IBM DB2 10.x, IBM WebSphere 8.5.5 and Linux development tools for Power.
The "Ready for Smarter Commerce" program, for its part, is expected to produce 150 solutions built by IBM Business Partners this year, the company said.
PartnerWorld program changes
As part of the updates IBM is making to the PartnerWorld program, the company is releasing an interactive education platform, ThinkAcademy, to help partners develop cloud-centric consulting and design skills for multiple cloud architectures and deployment models. The program provides the same Think Friday training that IBM employees receive, plus more than 20 new online cloud computing courses in the PartnerWorld University cloud education.
We have a number of solutions that run on the SoftLayer cloud, and to be able to market them with IBM's stamp of approval gives us credibility.
Timothy Kreytak, CEO, Ironside Group
One partner we spoke with had good things to say about IBM's training. "IBM has such incredible resources and knowledge and the ability to push that out to the Business Partner is great," said Thomas McDonald, president of NSI, an IT services company based in Naugatuck, Conn. McDonald recounted Cognos-related training he received in the past, taught by an IBM employee who had been educating staffers for decades. The training was eventually rolled out to IBM Business Partners. "It was excellent. It was about how to whiteboard [and] how to talk about not just this specific IBM solution but how to talk about a solution in front of a client," McDonald said.
In addition to Think Academy, IBM has tweaked the PartnerWorld membership levels to embrace partners' cloud credentials. Partners with a cloud practice can reap bigger program benefits by demonstrating their prowess in various ways, including by providing verified client references.
The company is also increasing incentives for cloud service providers.
"IBM is providing additional resources to make it easier for [cloud service providers] to achieve a faster path to success,” said Marc Dupaquier, general manager for IBM Global Business Partners.
IBM also is making available a Cloud services mark, which it calls an "IBM ingredient brand mark." The mark can be used by Business Partners to promote their services that run on IBM technologies.
Timothy Kreytak, CEO and principal consultant of Ironside Group, which is based in Lexington, Mass., welcomed the idea of a Cloud services mark. "We have a number of solutions that run on the SoftLayer cloud, and to be able to market them with IBM's stamp of approval gives us credibility and it makes it easier for customers to be comfortable that IBM has blessed the solutions that we've built," he said.
IBM turned its attention toward flash with the FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution. The company said that the FlashSystem V840 is designed to enable greater volumes of data to be stored, accessed and analyzed through virtualization supported by flash.