IBM’s expansion of its ecosystem around IBM Edge Application Manager, which added Scale as a partner, not only brings them in for their traditional ecostructure branch-office-in-a-box play, but will likely make them part of more complex solutions with other third-party vendors.
Last week, IBM announced the significant expansion of its partner ecosystem around IBM Edge Application Manager, which they introduced last year as their hybrid cloud solution to better manage the movement of data and applications between the core and the edge. The initial launch also included a range of significant third-party ecosystem partners, including companies like Cisco, Dell Technologies, Equinix, Intel, Juniper Networks, Portworx, Samsung, and Turbonomic. The expanded ecosystem adds more players with specific skillsets around the edge, making possible a richer range of solutions that can be integrated, tested, and sold with IBM Edge Application Manager. One of those players is Scale Computing, which sees participation in the expanded ecosystem as an enormous opportunity for themselves and their channel partners.
“The IBM announcement is very edge computing focused, very cloud native focused, and very large-scale distribution focused, on deployments with tens of thousands of locations,” said Dave Demlow VP, Product Strategy at Scale Computing. “That is where Scale Computing is headed. We definitely started in the SMB and midmarket, as a VMware competitor there, and we did well there because of our ease of use. Now we are magnifying that across thousands of locations.”
Scale Computing landed their first large deployment through their strategic partnership with Lenovo, with Dutch-based European supermarket chain Delhaize, which when the OEM partnership was announced in 2018, had over 8000 units. That’s still the company’s largest customer although they have many others near that range, with Delhaize being an enthusiastic reference customer for these other larger prospects.
Demlow is enthusiastic about Scale will fit into the expanded IBM ecosystem around IBM Edge Application Manager.
“IBM Edge Application Manager is based on open source technology, Open Horizon, where IBM wrote the code and then donated it as an open source project,” he indicated. “It needs things to run on. Some are dumb like cameras. Where we come in is running edge applications securely around some of these more full-function applications on our HC3. It’s like having a branch office in a box that’s all centrally managed.”
While the initial IBM ecosystem was fairly broad, Demlow said that it didn’t have enough explicitly edge-focused players.
“IBM saw that even with their Red Hat portfolio, they didn’t have the right portfolio to meet the low-cost needs for locations with no IT capability he said. “We are the infrastructure for that, the more classic IT piece.”
The other new ecosystem partners are a level up providing a strong array of machine learning and AI middleware services and other specialized capabilities.” Atos, for example, leverages IoT data with video analytics solutions, powered by the AI capabilities of BullSequana Edge servers. ClearBlade’s Intelligent Assets provide a no-code IoT application built for business operations, to provide edge-native tracking, monitoring, control and inferencing. Vantiq’s low-code full lifecycle development platform helps rapidly build real-time edge-native applications. GSI Wipro has a Boundaryless Universal Edge (BLUE) ready-to-service stack and 5G Edge and IoT Services Solution Suite.
“This ecosystem is exciting for all of us,” Demlow said. “IBM themselves are very strong in services, and have a well-versed distributed services team. They are bringing together wide ecosystems of a lot of use cases. We will be able to show customers compete reference architectures. Over the next year, we will see a bunch of customer blueprints that are using this whole stack.”
This broader stack opportunity is likely to increase channel partner interest in the more vertically-specific solutions that it will create.
“We have always had a lot of partners who are focusing on specific verticals like retail, taking advantage of the simplicity that we have always brought,” said Scott Mann, Scale Computing’s channel chief. “However, there wasn’t much channel interest before in moving into this kind of opportunity, unless they were already very specialized, because much of the sale was commoditized hardware. They needed a strong services play to make money. The convergence that we will see develop here makes these kinds of solutions a more attractive play for a channel partner focused on margins outside of services.”