IBM PartnerWorld at Think Digital 2020 Kicks Off with Refreshed Partner Program

Hybrid cloud sits at the center of IBM and partner opportunity for 2020 and beyond.

Lynn Haber

May 5, 2020

3 Min Read
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For the 28,000 partners attending IBM PartnerWorld at Think Digital 2020 on Tuesday, they heard the company announce new specialized tracks, new competencies, and how hybrid cloud is the biggest opportunity for IBM and its business partners.

The new elements in the IBM Business Partner program represent the biggest overhaul of the program in a decade. They covers three themes: partner growth, increased partner collaboration with IBM, and new tracks for success. And, the focus centers on hybrid cloud.


IBM’s David La Rose

“Hybrid cloud is at the center of the opportunity that both IBM and its business partners have in 2020 and beyond,” David La Rose, general manager, IBM Partner Ecosystem, told Channel Futures. “Hybrid cloud operating environments are a reality at their clients – large enterprise, midsize, commercial – whatever size clients you want to look at.”

A Closer Look

Taking a closer look at the three themes:

  • Helping facilitate partner growth through clarity, simplicity and support. IBM announced new incentives and rewards that put the company’s software portfolio and IBM Cloud Paks front and center.

  • The company is simplifying its software incentives structure. IBM is aligning partner incentives with its go-to-market so IBM teams and partners can better collaborate.

  • The vendor is expanding the PartnerWorld program, introducing two new tracks. One is a “build” track; the other is a “service” track. The company already has a “sell” track.

The build track is for partners who want to build on a cloud platform. That can be for the IBM Cloud or another vendor’s cloud platform.

“This is in the context of a hybrid multicloud environment,” said La Rose. “The service track will be centered around those partners who want to build services on a cloud environment. These could be developers or system integrators, for example.”

The build, service and sell tracks come with benefits and offerings for partners to unlock opportunities for their businesses quicker.

Hybrid Cloud Opportunity

While IBM customers are in different positions on the spectrum of moving to a hybrid cloud environment, they do have multiple cloud environments in their businesses today.

“Customers have moved about 20% of the workload into a cloud environment. Those are the easy workloads. Now they’re looking for partners and integrators to help them move the complex workloads, or that remaining 80% of workloads,” said La Rose.

IBM’s Red Hat acquisition allows the company to containerize its middleware software on the Red Hat OpenShift platform. That effectively allows you to build once and deploy anywhere.

“The evolution of the PartnerWorld program is to pivot the program toward accelerating that opportunity,” said La Rose. “We have partners that have a heritage of reselling software. And we want to bring them with us and protect the investments that they’ve made. We want to bring them into the new world of platforms and consumption.”

At IBM PartnerWorld at Think Digital, the vendor also said it is looking to attract a new set of partners who are already in the hybrid world.

New Competencies

The company introduced new competencies aligned to the banking and financial services industry, and also industrial and manufacturing. Expect to see additional competencies roll out throughout the year, the company said at IBM PartnerWorld at Think.

The company is also delivering new IBM partner packages. They bundle cloud and cognitive benefits to help partners quickly learn, develop and test solutions on the IBM Cloud. The company isn’t just helping business partners speed up development time and reduce time to market. IBM also has an extensive network of sellers, ecosystem partners and go-to-market resources. They can help partners get global visibility and make money off of their products and services more quickly.

IBM launched a new partner support desk to address the partner experience. This serves as a central location for personalized and proactive support via phone, email or chat.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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