WALTHAM, Mass., Sept. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a broad set of global initiatives to better position clients to take advantage of cloud opportunities. This effort is aimed at further expanding IBM's cloud ecosystem, enabling organizations to develop solutions and services on IBM SmartCloud and PureSystems, built on open standards. As more clients embrace cloud computing, they are looking to local technology providers known as Managed Service Providers (MSP) to help them quickly develop cloud based services in a more simplistic, secure and economical way.
Managed service providers deliver a defined set of technology solutions or services to clients with a pay-as-you-go model. MSPs are largely leveraged by customers which want to take advantage of cloud technologies but lack the internal IT skills, resources and time. For example, smaller hospitals are still challenged with adopting electronic medical records. Many healthcare providers are turning to the MSP model, where an MSP can quickly help the small healthcare provider to build and manage a cloud service to process patient data and make that information available securely in the cloud, freeing up the healthcare provider to focus more on the patient.
As part of today's news, IBM is taking its collaboration with MSPs and its global ecosystem one step further by enabling them to build innovative solutions and services on IBM's advanced technologies such as SmartCloud, PureSystems, and analytics. IBM will also provide MSPs access to IBM experts with deep technical skills at four new global centers of excellence; and offer an unmatched set of programs to support MSP marketing efforts to help them build their brands, generate demand for their services, and grow their marketing skills. Additionally, IBM will offer affordable financing options through IBM Global Financing to help MSPs acquire new technologies.
- Access to Global Centers of Excellence: IBM is launching new Global Centers of Excellence in Shanghai; Tokyo; Ehningen, Germany; and New York City to provide MSPs with access to IBM's deep technical expertise to develop innovative cloud services and solutions on IBM's open stack to address industry-specific client needs. This will enable MSPs to get hands-on technical expertise in building skills on technologies such as IBM SmartCloud, PureSystems, storage, security and collaboration.MSPs will also have access to IBM's 40 IBM Innovation Centers in 33 countries for joint client engagements. In addition, IBM will launch a virtual briefing center that will provide an ongoing forum for MSPs to share ideas and knowledge around industry challenges clients are facing today. This community will enable ongoing engagement of MSPs as well as IBM experts to share best practices.
- Dedicated Marketing and Sales Support: IBM will now offer an unmatched set of marketing and sales support initiatives tailored to MSPs. These initiatives are designed to help MSPs grow their businesses, build their brands and create demand for their capabilities. The new program will provide MSPs with solutions for building a complete marketing plan and a four-part education effort on how to effectively use social media to grow their businesses and better target their clients. Additionally, MSPs will gain access to IBM analytics capabilities to help them identify new customers and capture additional opportunities with their existing customers. As part of the program, MSPs will also receive dedicated support from IBM to guide them through the program and take advantage of the resources made available. A significant part of the $100 million IBM has invested annually in marketing efforts for its global ecosystem will now be made available to MSPs and their marketing efforts.
- Seizing the Opportunity with PureSystems: PureSystems will provide a new, integrated, by-design platform for MSPs to tune hardware and software resources for data intensive workloads. The integration of the PureSystems platform, coupled with the patterns of expertise technology and the flexibility to configure an application for either an on-premise or hosted environment, makes the PureSystems platform a natural choice for MSPs.
- Building on the Advanced Capabilities of IBM SmartCloud: MSPs can take advantage of IBM's SmartCloud, including an option to integrate the offering as an IBM-backed solution or under their own brand in the market built on IBM SmartCloud Enterprise to expand the services they offer. IBM will also work with new MSPs to design and develop their data center strategies, leveraging IBM's years of experience in data center best practices.
- Financing Options through IBM Global Financing (IGF): MSPs can acquire new technology solutions and services to support their growth with flexible, affordable payment plans for IBM systems, software and services -- including 12-month, 0% loans for IBM Systems, Storage and Software. A payment plan from IGF can provide MSPs with low monthly payment options while avoiding large, up-front cash payments, the ability to upgrade their systems mid-lease and improve IT asset management. MSPs that select PureSystems platforms may defer their first payment for 90 days.
Expanding the Ecosystem
Members of IBM's ecosystem, which includes independent software vendors, systems integrators, value-added resellers, and MSPs are collaborating with IBM to take advantage of IBM's higher value capabilities such as SmartCloud, PureSystems and analytics to build industry specific cloud services.
To date, IBM has built relationships with more than 1,400 MSPs, such as Perimeter, Symmetry, Velocity, CenterBeam, Oxford Networks, PEER 1 Hosting, Connectria, and others. These MSPs are focused on delivering industry specific capabilities such as helping a small healthcare provider manage digital records on the cloud securely, or helping a midsize bank enable their clients to securely conduct more and more of their daily transactions via smartphones.
"These new initiatives launched by IBM are unfolding new opportunities for our organization not only to create new business opportunities with clients but also seize the opportunity to expand our global reach. The combination of IBM's technical expertise and focus on helping clients drive innovation with advanced technologies and its marketing engine will enable us to move beyond our traditional client base and reach new markets," said Craig Gunderson, CEO of Oxford Networks.
Additionally, IBM Business Partner Perimeter E-Security, based in Milford, CT, is collaborating with IBM to address the increasing cost, complexity, and stringent compliance requirements associated with securing communications and infrastructure in information intensive businesses such as banking, healthcare, and government. Solving today's regulatory and security challenges has and continues to become more and more cost prohibitive. While smaller financial institutions face the same regulatory pressure and data security threats, they lack the resources larger banks have to secure their institution. Cloud technology is now making it possible for smaller banks to address these issues cost effectively. This collaboration complements Perimeter's capabilities with advanced technologies such as IBM SmartCloud, storage, and security capabilities, as well as expanding the MSP's global presence in growth markets such as Africa.
"Because clients today have changed the way they purchase IT, a MSP or cloud provider must demonstrate a level of trust before the managed services relationship starts,"said Charles Weaver, CEO of MSP Alliance. "How they market themselves often will be the difference between success and failure. This new set of initiatives IBM is launching today reinforces the company's commitment to ensure this community has the right marketing support and technologies to effectively succeed in this segment."
The new offerings, which range from developing skills to gaining access to IBM's R&D and Innovation Centers, are another proof point of IBM's focus on providing the right capabilities and expertise to help MSPs fulfill the evolving needs of today's clients and, in turn, help MSPs grow their own business.
Today's news builds on IBM's recently announced sponsorship of the new OpenStack Foundation, an independent entity, to promote the project and open source cloud computing. OpenStack will enhance IBM's SmartCloud Foundation offerings, drive deeper industry collaboration and accelerate momentum for critical industry standards while also making it easier for MSPs to consume IBM's offerings through the Cloud.
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