Channeling the Cloud

Partners and the Cloud Transition: IT Heavyweights Roll Out Cloud Programs

There was a distinct cloud slant at some of the major IT players' recent partner confabs, with Cisco, IBM and VMware each rolling out new programs to help their partners transition customers to the new computing paradigm.

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A number of major IT vendors have come off the annual rituals: their partner confabs. Cisco Systems, IBM, Parallels and VMware held back-to-back partner conferences stretching from mid-February to mid-March.

The vendors announced new programs and messaging aimed at helping partners transition their customers to the cloud.

IBM unveiled the new Cloud Computing Specialty at its PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla. Up until now, the company lacked a cohesive go-to-market strategy for its various cloud initiatives.

Big Blue has identified five types of cloud partners it's addressing.

  1. Cloud Application Providers -- typically, these are ISVs that are moving toward the Software as a Service model.

  2. Cloud Builders -- systems integrators, consultants and solution providers that build private clouds for customers.

  3. Cloud Infrastructure Providers -- telcos, regional hosters and managed services providers, and anyone building out cloud infrastructure.

  4. Cloud Services Solution Providers -- those that resell multiple cloud services to offer custom or vertical solutions for customers.

  5. Cloud Technology Providers -- companies that provide tools aimed at extending the value of public clouds, such as cloud management, billing and monitoring software.

While the Cloud Computing Specialty is aimed at partner development, IBM also launched its first authorization and certification program for its software resellers.

Cisco rolled out its Cisco Cloud Partner Program at the company's annual Cisco Partner Summit in New Orleans. Cisco has established three tracks for partners: Cloud Builder, Cloud Provider and Cloud Reseller. Cloud Builder is for partners who, as the name implies, design and implement private clouds for customers. A partner with the Cloud Builder badge must hold sales and implementation competencies in cloud infrastructure and cloud management, and it requires a Cloud Professional Services Practice. Cloud Providers are partners that want to offer public cloud services, and Cloud Resellers are partners who OEM or resell the Cloud Provider offerings.

Meanwhile, others took more incremental steps toward extending their reach to cloud providers. Parallels launched the Parallels Automation for Cloud Infrastructure, designed to help services providers take on some of the larger cloud players, notably Amazon Web Services. It provides provisioning, billing and self-service management and can be administered through a management console that lets IT pros build, scale and manage virtual datacenters on their own.

And VMware said it's coming out with a Cloud Computing competency, which will be available later this year and is focused on VMware vCloud Director, "which is very key to IT as a Service strategy for any customer," says Colleen Kapase, VMware senior director of global partner strategy.

VMware also kicked off its Your Cloud campaign, which will be a marketing campaign to emphasize its strategy of enabling hybrid clouds. Partners can now access information on cloud-computing solutions using the company's GRID tool, which allows them to push co-branded materials to their customers.

What's your take on the new programs coming to market?

Check out the Schwartz Cloud Report blog.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.