Fred Cuen, senior vice president, general manager, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas, IBM Solutions group
By Mark Cox
Distributor Avnet Technology Solutions has expanded its longstanding relationship with IBM to include cloud services from SoftLayer, a company which IBM acquired in July 2013. Initially, the deal will cover the U.S. and Canada, but Avnet intends to take it global as well.
“This new relationship with IBM Software extends the relationship that IBM has had over the course of 30 years, and puts us in a position to be in a unique position in the market of cloud,” said Fred Cuen, senior vice president, general manager, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas, IBM Solutions group.
This distribution announcement follows up a series of initiatives IBM announced late last week to make SoftLayer more attractive to partners.
“Last week, IBM put together a very enticing margin program for SoftLayer partners, increased the monthly reoccuring opportunities and increased marketing money for partners,” Cuen said. “We are the first to sign an agreement with SoftLayer as part of the new launch.” Cuen said this continues IBM’s recent focus, which was emphasized at PartnerWorld in February, to further enable the channel to get IBM to businesses they can’t get to themselves.
Avnet had been making other cloud infrastructure offerings available to IBM partners previously, but also had a relationship with SoftLayer, which will now be greatly expanded.
“We have put solutions on our cloud for SoftLayer, including an analytics solution sold through our partners, and we are also a client of theirs, and host a number of our solutions on SoftLayer today,” Cuen said. “They have a backbone that is unbelievable in terms of communication. They standardize and automate everything. It’s a very efficient model.”
“Some of their management portal technology we also think is pretty strong, and now IBM is expanding that already capable capability,” said Tim FitzGerald, vice president of Avnet Cloud Solutions, for Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas.
SoftLayer began by selling direct, and previous to their acquisition, had begun developing a channel, but that process will now greatly intensify with the Avnet relationship.
“They had a formidable direct to customer type of engagement, and had acquired some partners, and what they are now doing is really gearing up a channel,” Cuen said. “They like dealing with us because we have a global reach and will bring new logos to them.
“We will do what Avnet does best for them,” Cuen added. “This includes recruiting new partners, enabling them, and putting partners in a position to be successful.”
“We do a significant amount of market research and vetting of different cloud providers, and clearly SoftLayer sees great value in that,” FitzGerald said. “We bring both enablement programs and investment in end-customers’ consumable cloud offerings through our CloudReady program. The value for a partner of these packaged offerings is it takes costs out of their business and helps them get to market faster.” These offerings are supported by Avnet’s team of more than 350 specialists focused on IBM and its’ services team.
Cuen also said that SoftLayer will bring new value to Avnet’s IBM practise. SoftLayer’s network architecture will allow Avnet partners to use a private network rather than public networks or the Internet, to improve performance.
“It’s another tool in our toolbox, and adds to our ability to provide solutions that a client or partner would like to consume,” Cuen said.