IBM's new focus and push around the enterprise data center with come with a new Business Partner program that's still being developed and will be launched later in the year, but Big Blue says partners shouldn't wait to develop the required skill sets within their organizations.
A new focus on services is a key part if IBM's enterprise data center play says Debra Thompson, vice-president, enterprise systems division, IBM systems and technology group. The vision revolves around server consolidation, virtualization, energy efficiency, infrastructure assessments, business resiliency, security and reducing power usage.
With IBM using its channel as a strong route to its enterprise customers in hardware and software, Thompson says it only makes sense for IBM to do the same on the services side.
"We want to launch this play very broadly," said Thompson.
She's currently working on developing the specifics of the partner program, which will include solution certification and skills development, and Thomson says with IBM looking to divert its co-marketing dollars to the partners that join this program she wants to make sure partners have the right mix of skills to deliver the enterprise data center to their clients.
"This is the beginnings of a long-term look at how we work with business partners in the enterprise space," said Thompson.
The data center has long been an overlooked area for IBM says Mark Wylie, COO of US-based IBM partner Compuquip Technologies. With IBM's new focus on the space however Wylie says Compuquip is also launching a strong push in the space, leveraging the partner's relationships with Microsoft and Cisco Systems as well.
If partners are going to succeed in the data center, Wylie says there are six key skill sets they're going to need to develop, and excel in:
Virtualization: Virtualization has got to be at the core of what you're doing.
Networking: Networking is clearly going to be another key skill, that's the foundation.
Clustering: The clustering aspect of virtualization will be essential, as partners will need to make the infrastructure redundant as well as work from the same data models.
Microsoft: Wintel and Windows OS skills won't be diminishing in importance.
Security: It's only becoming more important, and is accounting for an ever greater proportion of partner business.
Systems management: Key skills to have because in the end, systems management is the glue that holds it all together.