Partnerships Solidify IBM's Cloud Ecosystem

IBM inks recent deals with VMware, SugarCRM and Acxiom, among others, to bolster Big Blue's cloud ecosystem and offer new solutions to customers.

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IBM recently launched and expanded a series of cloud computing partnerships aimed at helping customers transition their operations for the digital age.

IBM expanded partnerships with VMware and SugarCRM and entered into a new partnership with Acxiom around the IBM Cloud. IBM and VMware also announced an expansion of the partnership they initially launched at IBM InterConnect 2016 in February.

The relationship between IBM and VMware enables the companies' enterprise customers to easily extend their existing workloads from on-premise software-defined data centers to the cloud, Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, said in a video about the expanded partnership. The expansion comes as the companies are now enabling VMware Horizon Air customers to take advantage of cloud-hosted desktop and application services via the IBM Cloud. Gelsinger said the two companies will offer the VMware Horizon Air Portfolio to enterprises globally in the cloud.

"We've announced a digital workspace cloud service that will help customers and partners transform the way they deliver Windows apps and virtual desktops in the cloud, allowing employees to embrace the business mobility evolution anywhere, anyplace, anytime," he said.

IBM officials said this announcement reinforces IBM Cloud as a strategic cloud partner for VMware. VMware Horizon Air cloud services delivers full Windows desktops or published applications to desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. The solution enables organizations to deliver virtual desktops and applications to a broad range of end users across devices and locations without the cost or hassle of owning or managing the required infrastructure.

"Provisioning secure digital workspaces using VMware Horizon Air services from IBM Cloud will assist customers with their journey to embrace business mobility and accelerate their transformation to become true digital enterprises," said Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of IBM Cloud, in the video with Gelsinger.

Combining VMware Horizon Air with IBM Cloud will provide enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure to support deployments at cloud scale and speed and enable users to start locally and scale globally to new sites while delivering services that meet regional regulatory mandates.

"Our strategic partnership with IBM continues to grow and evolve as we look to enable customers to access corporate applications and data through a secure digital workspace," Sanjay Poonen, executive vice president and general manager of end-user computing, and head of global marketing and communications at VMware, said in a statement. "Customers are asking for choice and innovation, while protecting existing IT investments."

When VMware Horizon Air on IBM Cloud becomes available in the third quarter of 2016, it will be available with flexible monthly subscription pricing for cost-effective provisioning of cloud-hosted desktops and applications. VMware and IBM have been partners for more than 14 years.

"IBM has the global market reach that will help us drive this solution to our mutual customer base," Gelsinger said.

Among IBM's recent cloud deals, the VMware one stands out the most because it is part of the huge Dell/EMC merger, and this will be a good test to see if they can continue to remain independent, said Rob Enderle, founder of the Enderle Group.

"This should be an excellent showcase of whether VMware changes post-merger," Enderle told eWEEK. "In the end, IBM has always been a partnering machine, but all partnerships are not equal and you really have to figure out which ones have the most executive support. Here too VMware stands out largely because they are a significant part of system architecture while the others are more applications-based so the VMware partnership should be the strongest of the bunch."

Meanwhile, IBM and SugarCRM recently announced that organizations can deploy the Sugar customer relationship management (CRM) platform on-premises or across IBM's global network of 46 cloud data centers.

This announcement builds on IBM and SugarCRM's long-standing, strategic relationship. Last September, the two companies announced the IBM Marketing Cloud for SugarCRM, helping to break down silos between marketing, sales and service departments. That solution was named the Outstanding Commerce Solution at the 2016 IBM Beacon Awards. Many customers, including Rodobens in Brazil, and Henry Wurst Inc., have successfully deployed the offering.