The new facility is located at the company’s Hursley, UK Innovation Centre and is designed to help partners both build out their technologies for the cloud and their go-to-market and marketing efforts in that space.
“The Cloud Lab lets you get hands on with the technology,” said Sandy Carter, vice president of partners and midmarket for IBM Software Group. “It helps you address security in the cloud and how to do it, the multi-tenancy and scalability issues that you can face when you’re successful with it.”
According to Big Blue, a typical project at the lab will address a number of different cloud computing models and help partners become “cloud builders, application, technology and infrastructure providers, and cloud resellers and aggregators” depending on the individual partner’s own business.
As well as the staff from the Hursley facility, Carter said members of the company’s Cast Iron development team will staff the lab to help solution providers make the connection between cloud-based and on-premise solutions.
Partners can get access to the new centre through the company’s PartnerWorld channel web site, and access is open to any solution provider who’s a member of the program. Carter said the company also offers a lot of virtual education, demos and enablement for partners on the subject of the cloud via the Web site.
The new Cloud Computing Lab is linked with all of Big Blue’s 38 Innovation Centers worldwide, meaning Canadian partners don’t have to make the trip across the pond to get involved – but they’re welcome to do so if they’d like to.
Unsurprisingly, Carter said she sees a variety of levels of interest and acumen around the cloud in the partner community. But most of the interest is in the private cloud, the area “midmarket clients are ready for.” Carter’s advice to partners: It’s not a catch-all, it’s just another method of delivery.
“Don’t go out and sell cloud,” she said. “Figure out what problem they’re trying to solve, and if cloud is a good fit for that, so be it.”
Big Blue’s goal, she said, is to help partners access the technology side and positioning the cloud within customer opportunities as well as “providing them with ways to make money.”
Top fields in which partners can do just that, Carter said, include consulting services and cloud architecture. But for those who don’t yet want to commit, it’s not a gloom-and-doom situation. With just 10 to 15 per cent of all enterprise infrastructure going cloud by 2015, “there’s still enough business out there in traditional infrastructure,” Carter suggested.