Cloud is colossal business opportunity for channels: Amit Kumar, IBM

Technologies like multi-cloud and cloud containerization will help shape Indian cloud market in future, says Amit Kumar, Cloud Leader, IBM India/South Asia.

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Today’s cloud era is about blending cloud solutions with disruptive and emerging technologies – like block chain, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and predictive analytics to transform businesses, says Amit Kumar, Cloud Leader, IBM India/South Asia. He talks on technology trends in India and how enterprise IT channel can leverage new age technologies to grow their cloud business.

Edited Excerpts.

What are the major trends you foresee in India with respect to Cloud and its adoption rate across the organisations?

Today, a cloud is not looked at as only a storage solution but as a platform for innovation. Its computing capability is delivering higher values to multiple enterprises across sectors. This transition of the cloud platform is courtesy the emerging technologies that are being leveraged on the cloud such as AI, ML, block chain.

Enterprises and start-ups are tapping into these newer capabilities to bring forth cloud-enabled solutions that are customized according to their needs. The public and private cloud are gaining a great traction in the industry, given the fact that government organizations have also started looking towards leveraging cloud technology to bring in efficiency and growth prospects. Bringing out the best of both the clouds, is a hybrid cloud, a combination of the public and private cloud. In the hybrid model, the private on-premise cloud can be personalized for security, stability and operational efficiency as per the requirements of any organization, while the public cloud can be leveraged for scale, speed, and agility critical for better benefits.

To cater to the growing demand for cloud, IBM has been working towards building future-ready platforms for the new age businesses. It focuses around the core segments: from being enterprise strong, to help build organizations get value from their data and provide cloud system that encompasses a full range of cognitive abilities ranging from AI to machine learning and coupled with strong security and compliance capability.

Do you see more hybrid cloud infra or public cloud pick steam this year? Any roadblocks to the adoption of public cloud by most of the companies?

We see hybrid cloud to be the way forward as it blends elements of the private and the public cloud and traditional IT platforms with an orchestration between all of them. Hybrid cloud is improving operations through greater business agility and speed, more effective reallocation of internal resources and better linkage between IT and the business. 

There is a massive shift that is underway towards hybrid cloud infrastructure services globally as well and Gartner predicts that by 2020, 90 percent of companies will adopt hybrid infrastructure management.

We see an equal demand for public Cloud solutions. With public, Cloud organizations can easily configure, deploy and scale their infrastructure. Vendors today are offering tailored solutions to their customers and are addressing safety concerns through localized data centres.

Public cloud is the destination. Hybrid cloud is the path to get there. IBM is one of the leading players and we offer the best in class solutions for both hybrid and public cloud platforms.

 

Key Partner initiatives from IBM in 2018 : Amit Kumar 

1

Powering partner transformation by making it easier than ever for partners to shift between engagement models and move up the client value chain

2

Kicking off the Watson Build 2.0 -- a 10-month AI challenge to build new IP

3

IBM's first-ever self-service, digital platform to help businesses quickly embed IBM technology into their solutions and explore all the benefits of partnership

4

Doubling down on our global third-party marketplace and aggregator footprint to give our partners new, integrated routes to market.

What is IBM’s short-term objective for 2018 and long-term till 2020 on building the cloud business in India, in terms of business blueprint and technology offerings?

We see a lot of opportunities to innovate in the cloud. For 2018, our focus will be on IBM Cloud Private (ICP). IBM Cloud Private was launched last year to enable companies to create on prem cloud capabilities similar to those of public cloud and accelerate app development. ICP delivers a single platform located behind your firewall. With ICP, our customer can now leverage their on prem software portfolio and easily integrate next-generation data seamlessly and securely.

From now till 2020, IBM’s strategy is to become the undisputed leader in enterprise cloud. IBM has been working towards building a cloud rich with industry capabilities allowing enterprises to leverage the platform to cater to their specific requirements for their own organization and their clients. As enterprises tend to work on their personalized cloud strategy, we offer various forms of cloud-based services such as AI, the block chain, and Internet of Things (IoT) which are specifically designed keeping their strategies in mind. Our focus will continue to be on cognitive technologies as these can help multiple teams at companies improve performance.

Most channel companies from IT Infra or hardware business find it tough to adopt cloud business model. How can IBM help them grow cloud business?

Every business today is embracing digital transformation and is facing its own set of challenges in doing so successfully. In the IBM ecosystem, many core partners that have a long history with IBM are transforming into next-generation partners. It’s more critical than ever that partners develop skills in next-gen technologies like AI to seize new opportunities and grow their business and build a cloud which can deliver cloud-based solutions. IBM as part of the PartnerWorld program and various initiatives equips partners with required skills, client connects and joint go-to-market to help them grow. 

Today, the cloud offers a lot of scope for innovation. Business partners who are building their cloud businesses in India must ensure that they build their offering keeping in mind the cloud service providers and their cloud features/ capabilities - how best can they leverage the cloud solutions offered to them to optimize and extend tailored solutions to their customers.

What are the typical credentials of a channel partner that can work well with IBM’s cloud offerings? What’s the mix of enterprise channels in terms of traditional infra partners and ‘born in the cloud’ partners?

We work with all kinds of partners from start-up ISVs to well established SI partners for Cloud. Some of the requirements that we look at and not limited to are deployment, Migration & Managed Services capabilities, experience in selling at least one or many workloads including VMWare, SAP, Enterprise Software, Digital Sales and sales coverage team with pre-sales support, SaaS sellers etc.

We continue working with traditional partners and support them with their requirements as many of them are looking at transforming their business with IBM.  Through our global entrepreneur program, we have around 1000 odd start-ups and more than 200 of them are active in the cloud. While large enterprise continues to be our focus, IBM offerings, through partners, is penetrating in the commercial and the SME markets with the cloud consumption-based model, since these segments are quite amenable to scale.

It’s more critical than ever that partners develop skills in next-gen technologies like AI to seize new opportunities and grow their business and build a cloud which can deliver cloud-based solutions.

ami

 

Amit Kumar, Cloud Leader, IBM India/South Asia

What are the major cloud offerings by IBM where you feel channels can add value back and retain a long-term business relation with end customer? Why?

Customers are increasingly looking to implement their most critical applications and

processes on the cloud through a hybrid or a multi-cloud model. We work closely with our partners to offer the best of cloud solutions and jointly go-to-market. IBM's cloud is the platform for the next era of business as it can help companies innovate and leverage data for business growth. IBM Cloud is enterprise strong, data-first in approach and cognitive at the core. Our partners understand the value IBM brings to customers and hence they foresee business growth with us.

This year, IBM has announced multiple new innovations on IBM Cloud that will help enterprises further derive value from their cloud. IBM Cloud Private (ICP) - a recently launched product, is the answer for every organization looking at a multi-cloud strategy and aims to provide a secure, enterprise-grade, compliance-ready and open platform with PaaS and developer services. ICP will enable organizations to build secure clouds behind their firewalls quickly and easily. IBM Cloud Private is built on an open-source container technology to allow for seamless integrations with public clouds.

Besides, ‘IBM Cloud Object Storage’ (COS) solution addresses the weaknesses of traditional storage options available today by offering a solution that helps enterprises manage data storage requirements while ensuring that productivity and cost considerations are optimally balanced. The solution gives enterprises an option to choose a hybrid cloud model, with both on-premise and public cloud.

Highlight big partner initiatives IBM will take in 2018 to strengthen its ecosystem of cloud-centric partners.

To help accelerate our partners across our next-generation ecosystem, we are announcing four new initiatives that will make it easier, faster and more rewarding for partners to combine their industry expertise with IBM technologies. This will help them shift toward delivering higher value solutions that tackle their client's toughest problems.

The four initiatives include powering partner transformation by making it easier than ever for partners to shift between engagement models and move up the client value chain and Kicking off the Watson Build 2.0 -- a 10-month AI challenge to build new IP

IBM's first-ever self-service, digital platform to help businesses quickly embed IBM technology into their solutions and explore all the benefits of partnership. The Easy-to-access offers for new IBM Cloud partners to help them start building, selling and learning, including:  free offers of 10 TB of IBM Cloud Object storage, 100,000 conversations using IBM Watson Assistant, 100 Cloud Container Clusters; $50,000 in migration services for partners migrating over USD 20,000 per month in workloads from a competitive cloud, Pre-built code patterns to accelerate development ,Online courses to build skills, Technical support and tech consultations and the Ability to list their integrated solution on IBM Marketplace

We are also doubling down on our global third-party marketplace and aggregator footprint to give our partners new, integrated routes to market.

New Cloud offerings for IBM Channels

1

IBM Cloud Private (ICP) delivering a single platform located behind a customer’s FW for building cloud-native apps or modernizing existing ones.

2

IBM Cloud Object Storage (ICOS) for a highly scalable cloud storage service, designed for high durability, resiliency, and security.

3

IBM Hybrid cloud portfolio provides clients with a consistent way to monitor, manage and optimize workloads across their multi-cloud environment.

How do you see IT infra across Indian companies evolve with Cloud 2.0 world coming to the fore in 2018 and beyond?

The first phase of the cloud was all around cost – we wanted cheap compute and cheap storage. We’re now in the next phase and it’s all about innovation. As most of the organizations are utilizing the cloud, there is a threat that recognized that cloud technologies may get exploited hence, there must be a convergence platform for more advanced strategic reinvention. Today’s cloud era is about blending cloud solutions with disruptive and emerging technologies – like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and predictive analytics to transform businesses.

As per industry experts like Frost & Sullivan by 2020, 90 percent of business models may be driven by cloud, expanding the global cloud market to an impressive USD 250 billion. Visionary cloud leaders are already employing “cloud crucibles” to forge winning cloud strategies that create competitive advantage and boost financial success. We have built ‘IBM Cloud’ to be ‘the’ Cloud for businesses keeping in mind the need for it to be the ‘Cloud Crucible’- Designed for, data, AI ready and secure to the core.

Our new offerings like IBM Cloud Private (ICP) is delivering a single platform located behind a customer’s firewall for building cloud-native applications or modernizing existing ones. Similarly, IBM Cloud Object Storage (ICOS) is developed for a highly scalable cloud storage service, designed for high durability, resiliency, and security. Lastly, our Hybrid cloud portfolio provides clients with a consistent way to monitor, manage and optimize workloads across their multi-cloud environment.

Briefly, we foresee technologies like multi-cloud and cloud containerization helping shape the cloud market in the coming years.