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IBM focuses on channel opportunities after Red Hat buyout

IBM focuses on channel opportunities after Red Hat buyout

IBM is pushing its Cloud Paks through a revitalised channel strategy

Sallie Purser (IBM NZ)

Sallie Purser (IBM NZ)

Credit: Supplied

Red Hat is now part of IBM and the impact of that is already being felt locally as the tech giant doubles down on its revitalised channel strategy.

IBM has not always been the most channel or partner friendly organisation, often going to market directly and guarding its relationships with major customers.

That began to change several years ago, however, to the point where IBM's annual PartnerWorld conference in San Francisco last year heard partners had delivered 84,000 opportunities and drove US$14 billion in revenue in the previous 12 months.

In the same period, 13,000 new partners came on board.

Red Hat, which has arguably supercharged IBM's push into hybrid cloud, was all about the channel.

Red Hat has a very very good channel strategy and reputation, Sallie Purser, who was appointed general manager of channel and digital for New Zealand last March, told Reseller News

"They have one large client that is direct, other than that it is fully channel and their partners love them," Purser said after IBM's channel kick-off Summit in Auckland last week. 

Partners liked the way Red Hat operates and how trustworthy they were, she said.

IBM's local channel strategy also made progress in 2019 and that attracted a lot of partners to the standing-room-only kick-off to hear what the company had to say and what they could expect, Purser said. 

As well as pushing IBM's cloud offerings, or "Cloud Paks", to partners, a big part of the event was about exploring the the opportunities the Red Hat acquisition created.

Alison Freeman, who was appointed as general manager of business partner growth across Australia and New Zealand in March 2018, explained recent leadership changes, global strategy and the company's revitalised cloud focus.

Purser fleshed out what that meant locally. 

A panel that included IBM, Red Hat and Datacom explored how the IBM/Red Hat alliance was of benefit to partners, was especially relevant and well received, Purser said.

"We are working and focusing on making the channel an everyday part of how we do business in New Zealand and across the corporation," Purser said. 

IBM was also aligning its go-to-market to the channel around solutions such as the cloud. 

"We have very specific calls to action to them around Cloud Paks and lifting and shifting workloads," Purser said. 

That involves both direct assistance and enablement of the channel through training and certification.

"There’s a very big focus on enabling them more than they are currently, Purser said.

"We have people on standby to come with them on calls and help them craft solutions so that they get that direct exposure to being part of the IBM sales machine."

Education was paramount and Red Hat created new opportunities.

"We’ve purchased Red Hat which gives an open way of working across some of those technically quite tricky environments that some of the clients have found themselves in because they need to pull multiple clouds together," Purser said.

Partners are well positioned to take advantage of that so IBM is making its own sales and technical resources available to help the channel win business and deliver to clients.

Chief design and technology officer Isuru Fernando emphasised that if partners have a workload to move, IBM has people that will help with that and also on specific software and hardware plays.

Fernando characterised cloud migrations so far as at least partly experimental, but now partners and customers were looking to productionise and operationalise the cloud.

IBM, he said, had an open and secure approach that meshed with the shift to hybrid cloud and offered visibility across multi-cloud environments.

The company was also making its methods and frameworks as well as its technology available to partners.

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