IBM channel chief David La Rose discusses how the spinoff of Kyndryl will impact IBM’s engagement with partners.

Jeffrey Schwartz

February 8, 2022

10 Slides

Now that it is has divested its managed services business, the IBM PartnerWorld program will undergo continued modernization this year. Channel chief David La Rose plans to reveal investments in IBM’s flagship partner program at its Think conference in May.

La Rose, general manager of IBM partner ecosystem sales, shared his 2022 agenda in an interview with Channel Futures. While he didn’t provide specifics, La Rose shared key priorities for the modernization of IBM PartnerWorld.


IBM’s David La Rose

“We are focusing on skills, on activating this managed services element of our partners to help build on and integrate the IBM platform into our clients,” La Rose said. “But also, they have elements of their services business which can help influence client technology decisions on the IBM platform.”

The relationship with IBM and its partners is poised to become more symbiotic coming off the spinoff of its managed services business, Kyndryl. Partners will no longer find themselves competing with the former IBM Global Technology Services business. Without that business, IBM is signaling to partners it needs them more than ever as a key route to market.

Now that IBM has spun off Kyndryl, “it offers us and our partners an opportunity to really tap into the managed services and systems integration portfolio,” La Rose said. “There are areas that we can expand our incentive stack to both the front end, where partners are able to influence on the technology decisions, and at the backend where they are deploying our software products and are integrating our infrastructure products in clients’ environments that we haven’t tapped into before.”

La Rose shared the growth the IBM partner ecosystem generated in 2021, and other priorities for the PartnerWorld modernization. What follows is the beginning of that interview, edited for clarity. You can read the rest in the slideshow above.

Channel Futures: What is your assessment of IBM’s fourth quarter earnings report?

David La Rose: The fourth quarter was a very strong indicator of our expectations as we go through 2022 and consistent with the strategy that has been pitched, which is mid-single digit growth consistently and growth in free cash flow.

CF: What does that mean to IBM partners?

DLR: This has been a journey during the last three to five years with the declaration that we are a hybrid cloud and AI company. If you look at the $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat, and the other investments that we’ve made internally in products – about another $5 billion – and the acquisitions over the last few quarters around the automation and security portfolio, we have invested somewhere in the order of about $60 billion around the hybrid cloud and AI strategy.

CF: Are there specific data points you can share that would measure partner success?

DLR: The number of ecosystem partners that are generating revenue for our hybrid cloud platform has increased by about 80% over the last year.

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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