Modified on by AmyHAnderson
And finally, the system needs to be viewed as a dynamic, interconnected network of constituents. Although it doesn’t need to be difficult to decipher, an ecosystem is necessarily more complex than a simple partnership.
Partnerships are one to one relationships. They can be as structured as a strategic alliance, where the two parties make formal revenue commitments and drive sales jointly, or as casual as two sales reps meeting for coffee occasionally. But’s driven by two organizations with common objectives and a belief that mutual revenue will result from interacting with each other.
Effective partnerships happen when the two companies are highly aligned with each other. Corporate cultures, organizational styles, and compensation programs are complementary, making it easy to work with each other. Distributors and resellers have built their businesses around aligning to the vendors with whom they partner, epitomizing the approach to partnering.
Partner programs are one to many relationships. Vendors build programs to provide benefits to groups of partners. Programs help categorize partners by how they specialize and by their level of commitment to the vendor. Partners derive value through financial benefit, influence with the vendor, and non-monetary support such as technical enablement.
When a vendor develops a set of partner programs, it’s easy to mistake that collection of programs for an ecosystem. But unless the constituents in the programs have independent and systematic access to each other, there is no ecosystem.
A true ecosystem is a set of many to many relationships between partners in the “feeding system” and the influencers in the “energy flows.” As described in Part 2, the flow of money and the exchange of ideas are critical to a sustaining a vibrant ecosystem.
And as the ecosystem matures, there is less need for a single orchestrator to direct the activities of each constituent. Two parties may work together on a project or deal that has benefits that reverberates through the ecosystem. This is fundamentally what differentiates an ecosystem from a set of partner programs.
Open source computing models provide the basis for a mature ecosystem. Open systems have long been heralded as the antidote to vendor lock-in, but in reality, the true value of open computing is the fluidity of ideas, and increasingly the opportunity for new economic models.
For example, when a vendor makes a service available as an API, there are several ways to monetize that service, either through direct sales, revenue sharing, or advertising. Highly mature online communities, fueled by social business, create the platform for this exchange that benefits the entire ecosystem.
Summarizing all three parts
In summary, any organization looking to build an ecosystem needs to start with a three-pronged plan:
Define the whole and the sum of the parts
Who are the constituents?
How do they interact?
People and assets required from each constituent
Who is creating the assets?
What are the assets?
Who is doing the selling?
Money and content
How does the money flow through the ecosystem?
What kind of content needs to flow through the ecosystem and what channels will the content require?
Answering these questions is a lot harder than it sounds. But as the industry moves into this next paradigm of computing, getting these answers right will be critical to every vendor’s success.
As we enter our second year of PureSystems, it’s a good time to step back and reflect on how the PureSystems family is complementary to our SmartCloud Services offerings, particularly for our partners.
To review briefly: PureSystems represents the family of private cloud offerings from IBM. These industry leading solutions, which include PureFlex, PureData, and PureApplication Systems, combine hardware, software, and services under a single order number. These systems vastly simplify the installation, administration, and management of a private cloud.
SmartCloud Services refer to IBM’s family of public cloud offerings. SmartCloud Enterprise is our entry level cloud featuring easy onboarding and simplified options. SmartCloud Enterprise+ is our enterprise-class managed cloud providing a range of SLAs and levels of managed support ideally suited for mission critical applications in large enterprises.
The good news for ISVs is that these two families come together at the application layer, in the form of application patterns. An application pattern is a description of the application, including its architecture, middleware components, tuning parameters, and security settings. ISVs create the patterns once, and then clients deploy the patterns on either PureApplication System or SmartCloud Application Services (SCAS).
Application patterns drastically reduce time to deployment and the overall management of the application. And patterns give developers options for both public and private cloud deployment. ISVs who leverage application patterns do not have to choose between enabling to public or private cloud.
In 2001, IBM published the concept of Autonomics, which was a general description of computing systems that are self-managing. Autonomics sought to address the issue of growing systems complexity by proposing technologies that were self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimizing, and self-protecting. Although IBM delivered many products that provided aspects of autonomic computing, it was all delivered in the traditional data center. Application patterns deliver the promise of autonomics in the cloud.
IBM is publishing examples of how application patterns are changing the game for both ISVs and our joint clients—and we’re eager to hear more success stories. Please let us know how application patterns are working for you across private and public cloud.
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Two years ago, IBM launched the Cloud Specialty. From the beginning, we declared the Specialty—like all IBM Specialties—to be an elite program for partners interested in a deeper investment with IBM. The press and analyst communities received the program with enthusiasm.
The Specialty is built around five partner models for cloud. These models address all partner types, such as ISVs, SIs, VADs, and VARS, and focus on what partners want to do with IBM and cloud. Rather create separate programs for different types of partners, we created a single program with multiple paths, thus allowing each partner to find the right fit for their business’s cloud strategy.
Like any IBM Specialty, the partners demonstrate skills, revenue, and references related to a particularly technology and in exchange, IBM provides marketing benefits. Because the program is elite, the requirements for partners are meant to be challenging, and the benefits from IBM are meant to be generous.
Two years ago, private cloud was in full swing and public cloud—at least for large enterprise clients—was in the early adopter stage. So not surprisingly, the Cloud Builder path, which targets private cloud builders, was immediately popular. For the most part, Cloud Builders came out of traditional VADs and VARs and were accustomed to the requirements of a specialty. We assumed that paths designed for public cloud partners would soon follow in popularity and adoption.
But public cloud partners, by and large, have a different heritage. These partners are traditional ISVs and SIs, and many of them resisted the rigors of the requirements. Many found the certification tests onerous and irrelevant, and still others struggled to publicly identify clients who saw their cloud implementations as a competitive advantage. And too often, they concluded that our generous benefits were not worth the cost of qualification. As a result, the application provider and technology provider paths never took off the way we expected.
Meanwhile, entry level programs built around the Ready For concept have flourished with these same partners. In a Ready For, the partner documents their solution in production and in return, IBM provides a badge, or mark, and make the solution available in a catalog. The Ready For SmartCloud Services program in particular has had very broad appeal.
Our partners have voted with their keyboards, and IBM is responding. We are in the process of revising our Cloud Specialty to focus on Cloud Builders and MSPs. The MSP Initiative is a great place to start on working with IBM in variety of geos and industries. Partners interested in working with IBM as a SaaS provider should pursue the Ready For SmartCloud Services program.
Most importantly, these program changes do not diminish the viability of the five partner paths. We will continue to use these paths as the basis for our discussions about what we can do together and how we can jointly drive success for our clients.
How have the five paths helped you? Please let us know how our programs and partner models are working for you.
In December 2012, IBM published the 2012
Tech Trends Report, an annual research study conducted jointly by IBM developerWorks and the IBM
Center for Applied Insights. In this
study, IBM surveyed more than 1,200 IT professionals and more than 700 students
and academics from 13 countries. Not
surprisingly, for both the IT and academic communities, four primary
technologies are transforming business: social, mobile, analytics, and cloud
This research dovetails with IBM’s CEO study,
published in May, 2012. In that study,
CEOs reported for the first time that technology was the most important force
affecting their organizations, ahead of people skills, market factors, and
macroeconomic factors. This is
significant, because when technology is top of mind for the worlds top CEOs, it
indicates that we are in the midst of a major technology shift.
And cloud computing is fundamental to that technology
shift. It provides a viable platform for
the compute requirements of social, mobile, and analytics. All of these technology trends require fast
response times, vast stores of data, and a highly elastic backbone of networks
and servers. Not only can cloud deliver
on the technology requirements, but it can also serve an important financial
model: funding through operational expenses instead of capital expenses.
It is the combination of a technology shift and a financing
shift that puts cloud computing on the forefront of CEOs minds, because it
opens up new possibilities to reinvent business. We call those CEOs on the forefront of this
technology shift pacesetters, and they are creating new business opportunities,
moving into new markets, and driving higher efficiencies in their
business. These pacesetters are treating
cloud computing as a strategic opportunity, not a threat to the status quo.
Social, mobile, analytics, and cloud are each interesting in
their own right, but when treated strategically and as a whole, reinventing
business is not just a possibility, but a concrete business plan. IBM is working with companies who are using
cloud computing as the flexible platform for new applications that use
analytics to comb through social media to more precisely target a customer with
the products and services they need. In
this way, customers derive immediate value and never feel “spammed.” They are consuming this value through their
mobile devices, and increasingly have little patience for more traditional
At the same time, pacesetting CEOs are using cloud computing
to drive higher efficiencies within their own businesses. Companies that are dabbling in cloud computing
often presume that the only value of cloud is lower cost of IT operations. But the pacesetting organizations have
learned that cloud computing allows for more nimble operations, faster time to
market, and ultimately a way to expand the business.
Although the Tech Trends study reveals that we are
witnessing an exciting shift in technology, it also exposes a looming skills
gap at a worldwide level. IBM is ready
to help with our expansive
cloud computing resources right here on developerWorks. Please use and share our materials, and of
course, let us know what else you need to make your business a pacesetting
It’s been two weeks since IBM announced its new
program for Managed Service Providers (MSPs). We’ve been working with these types of
businesses for years, but with the launch of this program, IBM is acknowledging
how MSPs are at the forefront of using cloud computing to reinvent business.
Throughout the industry, the term “MSP” is broad and
vague. Its roots trace back to the
Application Service Providers of the late nineties. Back then, we had some notion that increased
bandwidth could enable small businesses to get out of running their own data
centers and simply pay an offsite service to manage their applications. Over time, this notion blossomed into a
business model where service providers add value through their expertise in
application usage, systems management, and business process.
MSPs, then, do much more than keep the data center running:
they provide expertise that businesses of all sizes—not just small
businesses—simply cannot maintain on their own.
For example, Doug Mow, Senior Vice President of Sales and
Marketing at Velocity Technology Solutions, explains that what clients value
about Velocity’s managed service is their deep expertise on Infor
applications. There are several
functions that most businesses only perform once or twice a year, such as
processing bonuses or adjusting payroll deductions. For on premise environments, teams often have
to relearn how to perform these functions every time they do them. But an MSP like Velocity performs these
functions regularly on behalf of many clients, thus increasing efficiencies for
MSPs bring expertise and economies of scale to their
customers. In turn, IBM brings affordable,
robust technology, worldwide marketing reach, and business transformation
support to the MSPs. For more
information on how we’re working with MSPs to reinvent business, visit our MSP
Virtual Briefing Center.
Ten months ago, we delivered the Cloud
Business Model Readiness Assessment for ISVs, a tool that not only helps
ISVs determine where they are in their cloud journey, but also shows the most
profitable next steps. Co-developed with
TechStrategy Labs, this tools
focuses on the business model transformation required to fully maximize profits
for a cloud solution.
Commonly referred to as the Business Model Self-Assessment,
the tool is an online survey available to all IBM Partnerworld Members. Once logged in with a valid Partnerworld
userid and password, ISVs answer about 20 multiple choice questions related to
the ISV’s SaaS technology, cloud business model, and pricing structures. Once submitted, the results are run through
an analytics engine that produces a customized four-page report for the
ISV. The report includes an assessment
of the ISV’s current SaaS model, as well as recommendations for next steps.
Like any tool, the self-assessment is not a silver bullet
that guarantees success in the cloud.
The report does not contain a magic formula for generating profits from
from nothing. But when used correctly,
the report can provide insights that help a business focus on profitable action
For example, I recently worked with an ISV in the data
warehousing space. Their solution provides
insights to retailers and relies on integrating data from multiple sources,
both inside and outside a business. It’s
easy to recognize why a cloud delivery model is ideal for this type of
application, but prioritizing the technology investments required to get there
is less obvious.
The ISV completed the self-assessment a few days before our
scheduled meeting. We all reviewed the
report in advance of the meeting, and we agreed to use the report as a working
agenda for our meeting.
The discussion was insightful and productive. Based on their input, the report showed they
had not done any virtualization of their solution, but they had completely
enabled mutli-tenancy. We honed in on this part of the report, and quickly discovered that they had
misunderstood our definition of multi-tenancy.
With that question quickly resolved, we were able to turn our attention
to their business model.
Although it might seem
that this ISV should first focus on virtualizing their infrastructure, the financial modeling section of the report revealed that they would achieve significant cost savings through a
more systematic approach to their significant data integration issues. IBM’s Websphere
Cast Iron product set is ideal for their requirements, and they are
currently investigating how to best put this offering to work for their
business. Once they have solved the data integration issues, they will then turn their attention to virtualization and multi-tenancy. One of the many golden nuggets in this report was the realization that although virtualization is important, it's lower on this ISV's priority list than data integration.
Importantly, this partner is free to run the self-assessment
tool as many times as they desire. As
they adopt new cloud technologies, they can play with various cost and pricing
scenarios to see how these investments improve their business.
The SaaS Business Model Self-Assessment tool is available to
all application providers who have Member level status on Partnerworld. Please feel free to use it, and we’ll be
happy to meet with you and talk about the results. And comment here on how the tool is working
In a recent CNBC interview, Marc
Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, said that the future of IT will
belong to those firms who are investing in social, mobile, and cloud.
Then he went on to point out how well his company has invested in
these areas and how poorly his rivals are investing.
In an October 22, 2011 New York Times
editorial, columnist Thomas Freidman wrote about a
recent visit to Silicon Valley and reported on an IT revolution
“driven by the convergence of social media...with the proliferation
of cheap wireless connectivity and Web-enabled smartphones and 'the
cloud'...” Again: social, mobile, and cloud.
From IBM's perspective, the
social-mobile-cloud sound bite is 75% correct. Cloud computing,
mobile technologies, and social business are inextricably
intertwined, and IBM also believes that those companies investing in
these technologies will be tomorrow's IT leaders. But IBM has a more
complete view of the future, and it's based on our last 100 years of
From the 2011 IBM CIO
Study and the CMO
Study, as well as several third party studies, analytics is one
of the top investment areas for executives who control IT spending.
The social-mobile-cloud sound bite completely misses that point.
True, the cloud makes the explosive growth of analytics possible, and
the explosive use of mobile and social gives everyone more to
analyze, but it is an oversight to leave analytics out of a vision
for what is hot now and what is driving the future.
In addition, IBM describes the future
through what we call the 2015 roadmap, and it has four elements:
growth markets, analytics, cloud computing, and Smarter Planet.
Taken together, these initiatives encompass social business, mobility
enablement, and cloud computing, and put them in the context of a
global market. The roadmap is also more complete than the sound bite
in that it includes a timeline and revenue targets. It's one thing
to say that the future depends on investment in a few technologies,
and it's another thing to publicly commit to a deadline for showing
actual results from those investments.
The roadmap is not merely a technology
statement. IBM's success over the last century is due in no small
part to being able to nurture compelling technologies and create
markets for them. We look forward to working with our partners
turning these exciting new opportunities into success stories for our
Today is an exciting day for IBM's
Cloud Computing initiative. Hopefully, you're confirmed your
registration for one of our 40 partner events that we're hosting
worldwide. 20 of those events will take place in one 24-hour period,
starting at 9 am on the East Coast of the US. The rest will be
rolling out over the next three weeks. Just in case you missed the
invitation, it's not too late to register:
In all of these events, we'll be
introducing you to a great new way of describing our cloud computing
strategy to your clients: the cloud adoption patterns. It's widely
accepted that IBM's breadth of cloud offerings is unmatched in the
industry, but it's not always easy to make sense of it all for your
clients. With these adoption patterns, you now have a way to quickly
hone in on what your clients need most and then identify a project
that delivers results for them and revenue for you.
Based on more than 2,000 cloud
computing engagement with clients, IBM has determined that when
clients approach cloud computing, they typically adopt it in one of
Cloud Enabled Data Center:
service management, automation, provisioning, and self service
capabilities for private and hybrid clouds.
Cloud Platform Services: Integrated
stack of middleware optimized for automated deployment and management
of heterogeneous workloads that dynamically adjusts.
& IT as a Service: Capabilities
provided to consumers for using a provider’s applications running
on a cloud infrastructure.
Cloud Service Provider:
reliable, highly secure and scalable platform for creating, managing,
and monetizing cloud services.
When a client sees these four adoption
patterns, it's a straightforward discussion to determine which
pattern most closely matches their business goals. In this way, we
avoid a technology-led discussion and instead focus on the client's
Once we establish the most logical
adoption pattern, the next step is to identify a project to get
started. Under each of the adoption patterns, we have created 3-7
projects that a client can undertake for cloud computing. The
projects are discrete and tangible, and designed to deliver near-term
results for the client. It is only after we identify a project that
we start talking about offerings and products from IBM. In this way,
we can leverage the breadth and depth of our offerings without
overwhelming a client.
As part of our cloud launch today,
we've opened our Cloud Computing Virtual Briefing Center. Please
visit the center for video presentations on the client adoption
patterns, webcasts on the projects, and a host of papers, brochures,
and podcasts that explain all aspects of the products and services
that we're launching today.
I look forward to working with all of
you in delivering cloud solutions to our clients.
This week I'm in Bangalore attending several partner meetings. One of these was with an application provider who has a very strong business in the telco industry. Their primary delivery model is on premise, but the private cloud portion of their business is at 15% of revenue this year and expected to grow to 40% over the next three years. In the course of talking about how the business will transition to the cloud, the CTO shared an interesting observation: cloud computing creates a desire for a menu of applications.
To explain further, in a traditional IT environment, a customer establishes a requirement for a certain capability. They form a team to define objectives and requirements, establish a budget, issue an RFP, and select a provider for the application. The key to this process is the budget. With traditional computing, there are only enough resources for a fixed solution, both from the perspective of capital expenditures and the people required for deployment. But when a businesses decides to acquire their application capabilities as a service, they are moving to an operational expense model, which frees them from having to associate new functionality with the cost of operations. This, in turns, gives the business the flexibility to consider complementary functions that can be rolled into the new service.
So, the CTO tells us, when a prospect engages with his company to evaluate a specific application, if the delivery model is private cloud, the customer invariably asks about additional capabilities and applications. This is not only an opportunity for the partner in question, it's an opportunity for the larger ecosystem.
This CTO has succinctly expressed something that we hear in a variety of ways from all of our partners: cloud computing implicitly increases demand for application capabilities. An obvious case in point is the plethora of applications on Facebook. When users don't have to install and maintain the applications themselves, they are more willing to install not just one or two, but numerous complementary functions. Of course, anyone who runs a data center would probably say Facebook makes it too easy, but that aspect can be controlled through policy and technology.
More importantly, the increased appetite for a menu of capabilities isn't met by merely providing a nifty catalog of applications. Application providers will meet their customer's needs by participating in a well-structured ecosystem of partners. Catalogs are merely an interface, the real benefit of complementary applications comes from an understanding of how applications fit together, as well as where and when a given partnership makes the most sense. And that requires a partner who can coordinate these relationships without unnecessary interference. Fostering an ecosystem in this way is exactly what IBM is doing with the Cloud Specialty.
With the partners in our program, we are helping them grow marketshare by connecting them to each other. The process is fairly manual for now, but look for tools coming later this year that will help automate some aspects of the program. But complete automation is not the goal, we are not trying to build an online matchmaking service for partners. We intend to provide the worldwide, cross industry market perspective that helps partners make sense of the opportunities they see.
Every partner that we're meeting with this week is on the cloud journey and has exciting plans for how cloud is expanding their marketshare and growing revenue. And in every case, IBM has a role to play in bringing our ecosystem to bear in building our mutual success. We look forward to growing our business with our partners.
August 12 was the 30th anniversary of the PC. While some of our colleagues won't remember the Charlie Chaplin ads and the sleek design of those first PCs, it was revolutionary for anyone who had been working with "real" computers. (And yes, boys and girls, the first PCs seemed sleek to us!) Pundits and analysts predicted that these machines would change the world. Curmudgeons grumbled that this PC was just a flash in the pan, that PCs could never do the work of the multi-million dollar systems running on raised floors.
Today we find ourselves in a revolution with similar commentary: pundits are talking about how cloud coupled with mobility changes everything, while so-called curmudgeons in the data center caution against blind faith in an unproven technology. The realities of this emerging technology will play themselves out over the next few years, but one thing does seem certain: cloud computing is taking us out of the PC era.
Cloud computing is inextricably linked to the mobile devices that untether us from the ubiquitous laptop. This new computing environment is not simply a replacement technology for PCs. It represents a new attitude toward technology, where the humans--with all our propensity for social interaction and non-linear thinking--are driving technology, rather than the other way around. Applications are linked and mashed and delivered to suit the needs of individuals and groups, whereas previously people had to adjust their behavior in order to access the application.
In both Mark Dean's article
and at the Cloud conference
I attended in June, experts have been calling this the "post-PC era." But that's only because we haven't thought of a better name. This era of computing is about more than just cloud or mobility technologies, and it's more comprehensive than social networking. It's about a people-centric, on demand approach to computing. As with other eras of computing, a better name than post-PC will eventually surface. I, for one, would not deign to name an entire era, seeing as how I have a hard time naming cats. But regardless of what we call this, it is a great time to be in the computing industry.