Sanjeev Aggarwal's Blog

February 24, 2015

SMB Spotlight: IBM’s Midmarket GM On New Partner Strategy and Programs for SMB and Midmarket Companies (Part 2)

Sanjeev: Hi, this Sanjeev Aggarwal from the SMB Group, and in today’s SMB Spotlight I’m speaking with John Mason, who is IBM’s General Manager for Midmarket. Hi John. Thanks for joining me in this two-part discussion about new IBM developments and solutions that are relevant for the midmarket and SMB space. Continuing our discussion in this second post, we focus on IBM’g go-to-market and channel strategy for SMBs and midmarket.

Sanjeev: How is IBM’s channel involved in marketing and selling some of these new solutions?

john_mason_edit

John: A couple of different ways. So for Verse, for example, we make that available to and through our business partners and they have an opportunity to develop recurring revenue model, annuity model and can also add their own consultative services, things like messaging migration or post-implementation support.

We’ve also introduced something called Watson Explorer for business partners. So, that really gives a very powerful cognitive search and analytics. And through this Explorer program, the business partner can identify high revenue potential and resale opportunities on Watson Explorer and then we continue to expand that obviously into other areas. So there’s are really significant joint market investments that we make together with our business partners.

I believe it’s in the order of 100 million dollar investment in co-marketing that we spend with our business partners together. We invest and they invest and then we jointly market to identify new opportunities.

One example is in the UK where we used a very interesting customer reference from Australia. The rugby team in Australia was using, in this case, SPSS to do predictive analytics on player injuries. The customer was called the Waratahs rugby team from Australia. They were using multiple data sources, looking at the players’ training program, their previous injuries, history of injuries, number of minutes they played in matches, that kind of thing to predict future injury probabilities.

The UK team took that customer reference, turned it into a marketing campaign, which was essentially a mock newspaper. That the UK IBM team together with specific, I think, two or three business partners sent this out to 97 different sports clubs in the UK, rugby teams, soccer teams, cricket teams, with a headline that said, you know something about that particular club’s lead player getting injured in three weeks’ time.

So, they sent, for example, to Manchester United such-and-such a player gets injured in three weeks. And then explained within the text how they could have used the IBM analytics tools working with the business partner to predict and effectively reduce the likelihood of injuries and therefore seen significant benefits to the team, which counts on having a full roster of players, etc.

We sent that to 97 different clubs and within a week we had 47 calls back into either IBM or the business partner asking for a follow-on meeting to see how they could actually take advantage of this same capability. And right now, we’re in the process of qualifying a number of those different opportunities into actual closed deals together with the business partners.

So what’s being indicated there is having an actual customer reference in the industry. Having a partner with the skillset, in this case analytics, and having that partner engaged early on in the joint demand generation efforts that we co-fund. That’s where we’ve seen very high response rates and then a much higher yield on the marketing activity.

Sanjeev: That is a great example, more specifically because small and midmarket would like to know how companies similar to theirs are using these solutions and what benefits they’re getting out of them.

John: Yeah, I think the key is you’re not just talking to the customer about technology but actually listening for their business challenge and in their language that’s relevant to them and their particular industry and turning that technology into a solution to that particular challenge.

So that’s where we’re also working programmatically with a number of our business partners to try to have that intersection point between industry expertise and technical know-how around specific cloud, analytics, mobile and social solution plays that can build on an existing customer reference in the same industry to find new opportunities.

Sanjeev: And I’m sure examples like these will open up new opportunities for IBM not only in accounts that have been familiar with IBM but also net new accounts.

John: Yes.

Sanjeev: Ease of use and the value they’re providing to SMBs.

John: Exactly. Yeah.

Sanjeev: So with IBM having so many products and solutions, how do SMBs find out about some of these new solutions that are innovative, ease to use, cloud-based?

John: A couple of different ways. One is obviously through our business partners. A lot of small and mid-sized businesses treat the business partner almost as their IT department whether it’s a cloud service provider or a more traditional business partner. So, quite often that is an inroad for a customer to start using IBM. In some cases, they may not even know they’re using IBM. It could be an embedded part of a cloud service provider solution that the SMB is buying and it’s actually IBM technology that’s provided there embedded in the solution. So, that’s one way.

Also, through traditional business partners with different solutions that we provide through them. But that is in some ways kind of a second-level connection. It was important for us to also establish a direct connection point for small and mid-sized businesses. In particular, to see what is available in terms of cloud services from IBM and from our business partners.

So, that led us to develop the IBM Cloud Marketplace, which brings together this very broad portfolio of offerings that IBM has itself but also third-party cloud services. And it’s organized, it’s a very simple, you can filter in ways, you can choose by self-identifying, if you like, as a developer or as an IT operations person or as a line of business decision maker. And within the line of business decision making you can choose by horizontal sort of functional area, marketing, human resources, finance, etc. or you can also sort by industry.

So, we’re really trying to use that as an on ramp for a customer to explore some of these solutions that they may not even realize IBM provides. And it could be solutions from third parties. In some cases, they even compete with IBM’s own offerings. We won’t exclude people who have a competing cloud service either. It’s important for us to demonstrate to customers and partners that we want to participate in an eco-system, which is open and allow customers to choose the solutions that best meet their needs, not necessarily force them to buy in the ways that we dictate. So it’s really about being a participant in an active but open eco-system of partners.

Sanjeev: Can SMBs if they go to this marketplace find out solutions that they can try before they buy?

John: Yeah, absolutely. One of the key requirements that we heard was the ability to get a free trial and to have limited free trial period or limited functionality for free for the customer to get a sense for whether this is a good fit. So we have a number of try before you buy type offerings. SoftLayer is one of them. You get a free month of virtual server from SoftLayer. IBM Verse, the communication offering that we mentioned before, has a 90-day free trial. Watson Analytics there’s a free version available, and then depending on which additional sources you want to use, then it steps up into a fee-based offering.

Sanjeev: How transparent is the marketplace for the users or SMBs to see not only the trial solutions but how much is the cloud solution going to cost them on a monthly basis if they do decide to go ahead and acquire that solution?

John: It varies a little bit, depending on the offerings. Obviously, some of the offerings are relatively simple, can be purchased with a credit card, in which case the pricing is clear, up-front on a per-seat, per-month basis which is the case for SoftLayer and some of the other offerings like FiberLink.

Sanjeev: How about like Watson Analytics?

John: Watson Analytics is free right now. We’re moving to additional tiers of fee-based offerings. So the switch should be coming out any time now.

Sanjeev: OK. Thanks. And what resources does IBM have to educate, train SMBs on the adoption of these new solutions? I think some of them you mentioned before. Are there any online videos, information content, online tutorials that can help them with a faster on ramp and different usage scenarios?

John: Yeah. Across every one of these solutions we have a wide range of video tutorials as well as user communities where users can pose questions, comments, share their own experiences as well as more structured tutorial content. Much of this, by the way, is accessible also through the IBM Cloud Marketplace. And so, if you start to explore one particular solution and are looking for more information we usually provide links within that same space to help the user identify more training, white papers and access to the community.

Similarly, by the way, for our business partners we also have a dedicated portal that we’ve just completely revamped called PartnerWorld where we have literally thousands of partners who have access to partner training materials and communities as well.

Sanjeev: OK, great. One last question. Does IBM and its partners have a program to help SMBs migrate from, say, Gmail to a Verse type of a solution?

John: We have several IBM Cloud Certified Business Partners who offer this type of migration, many of who are accessible through the Cloud Marketplace.

Sanjeev: Yeah, because sometimes the issue for SMBs is not only having new and innovative solutions, easy to use solutions available, they need to see how to move to adopt these new solutions based on what they have because in some cases they have lots of existing data.

John: That’s also an opportunity for our business partners to provide their value in the transition and migration type services as well. That’s something that we may not do directly. We, I know, are looking at tools that we could provide to help with that, but it’s also an area that a lot of our business partners have years of expertise in helping migrate from one platform to another.

Sanjeev: Yeah, definitely. I think if you can provide some of these tools to help the business partners make the life of SMBs easier in this migration I think it will go a long way to help both IBM and the partners. Great. Thank you.

John: Sanjeev, one other thing I forgot to mention is also on a cloud infrastructure approach with software, particularly for startups, we’ve also recently introduced a free cloud access On Ramp to help startups get started on using SoftLayer by providing up to $120,000 worth of free usage of SoftLayer for startups. That’s maybe something that they can also consider.

Sanjeev: How can startups can find out about the availability of these resources.

John: That was announced in November and you can view the press release on ibm.com: IBM Global Entrepreneur Program.

Sanjeev: Thanks for this very informative session. I think IBM, at least today, does have a really good roster of products to help SMBs be more productive in their journey to compete with the larger companies. I look forward to seeing the progress some of these solutions make in the upcoming months. Again, thanks for taking the time to talk to me.

John: Thanks, Sanjeev. Appreciate the time and I certainly look forward to continuing the discussion. Thank you.

This is the second of a two-part SMB Spotlight interview with John Mason, IBM’s General Manager for Midmarket. In the first post, we discuss new IBM developments and solutions that are relevant for the midmarket and SMB space. (link to first post)

April 16, 2010

Highlights from Iron Mountain Digital 2.0 Industry Analyst Meeting

Highlights: The overall annual growth in data volumes is beings driven by an increase in unstructured data created by social media and collaboration solutions, mobile solutions and rich media which is leading to much higher costs for information storage and management. This problem is further exasperated as the information creation moves from customer on-premises sources, to now include mobile edge devices and the cloud. SMBs and mid-market enterprises now need to take a much more holistic approach to information management. Driven by the need to support compliance, litigation, business continuity and disaster recovery requirements – SMBs need to carefully consider who they partner with as their trusted guardian of their information considering their need to store, protect, manage and retrieve this information in a virtual world anytime, anywhere, and anyplace.

Quick Take: I’ve been following Iron Mountain for a while, and this was their 3rd. analyst event that I attended. Everyone recognizes Salesforce.com as a cloud solution market leader; I would venture to say that the 2nd biggest cloud solution and services provider is Iron Mountain Digital. Key insights from the conference are:

  • Shift in company focus from Storage-as-a-Service to ‘Integrated Information Management Solutions‘ that is based on a location agnostic strategy – from on-premise to edge to cloud

  • Key Value Propositions to address the customers Total Cost of Ownership/Total Cost of Management of Information include:
    • Help customers reduce their spend and risk in owning / storing their rapidly growing information through policy-based intelligent information storage and access
    • Help customers improve operational efficiencies and reduce their spend in managing their information for use
    • Trusted partner in information management for both physical and electronic records and information, and in bridging from one to the other in terms of document conversion, data restoration, scanning, etc. 

What makes Iron Mountain different?

  • Information management platform with intelligence-driven and policy-enabled applications. This has been enabled through internal development and innovation (Digital Record Center for Compliant Messaging, for example), partnering (Total Email Management Suite, powered by Mimecast), and a carefully crafted acquisition strategy that started with Connected® and LiveVault® for backup to recent acquisitions that include Stratify® for eDiscovery and Mimosa for archiving.
  • Unique capabilities
    to “look into” and “look across” information
    . This will help with categorization of data – even at the point of creation – to enable intelligent access, compliance (including risk management), discovery, recovery, destruction and other potential use cases

  • Trusted partner who is financially strong. There are several companies offering remote backup solutions, and hosted email archiving, including you local VAR. But will these companies be around when you need the information 10-20 years from now for compliance purposes or to support litigation?
     What is still missing? Iron Mountain is accumulating a good war chest for location-agnostic information management solutions. They do have global relationships with large enterprise and upper mid-market companies – developed as the dominant leader in the physical information management services business that includes the storage of paper documents and magnetic tape storage media for backup and archiving purposes. They serve the SMB market through some core services, through direct and indirect channels. However, in my opinion, there is a larger opportunity in the SMB and core mid-market that includes:

    • Backup and archiving to support daily operations for desktops, servers and mobile devices
    • Backup and archiving to support business continuity and disaster recovery
    • Information management to support risk and compliance management
    • Virtualization of servers and desktops, and cloud computing is creating new and unique information creation and management opportunities which need to be addressed. The vendors that address these solutions (on public clouds based solutions) will be in the unique position to provide the services that Iron Mountain Digital 2.0 is seeking to provide. 

The first mover vendors will gain tremendous benefits, as these solution partnerships are now easy to replace – Iron Mountain can attest to this with their decade-long relationships with a large percentage of their customers. Iron Mountain needs to craft an SMB and core mid-market strategy with a more aggressive go-to-market plan than what I see at present.


 

July 31, 2009

Prognosis on SAP’s Business ByDesign – SaaS based ERP solution for the core mid-market

I came across a good analysis on some aspects of SaaS vs. on-premise vendors and solutions in the smoothspan post Why Do SaaS Companies Lose Money Hand Over Fist?

After reading through the post and various responses, I have some comments that could shed more light on the SaaS vs. on-premise topic and how this relates to SAP’s continued focus on Business ByDesign.

  • The global ERP market opportunity driven by the large number of SMB/mid-market companies. In the U.S. there are 11 times more mid-market companies and on a worldwide basis the number is 13.5X.

     

    # of U.S. Companies

    # of Worldwide companies

    Enterprises (1000+ empl.)

    9,000

    52,000

    Mid-Market (100-1000 empl.)

    100,000

    700,000

    Ratio – Mid-market/Enterprise

    11X

    13.5X

     

     

  • The enterprise market is heavily penetrated by ERP type solutions, mostly on-premise solutions. The U.S. mid-market has less than 42% ERP penetration. This penetration of ERP solutions is much lower outside the U.S. Existing SaaS solution vendors until now have primarily focused on the U.S. market, with less than 15-20% international sales (other than Salesforce.com). SAP being a global company, has the potential of ramping up fast in the international markets which is very under penetrated, where SAP already has established relationships and market presence (significantly more than any of the SaaS vendors). This presents a significant upside revenue opportunity for SAP in the mid-market (especially in the 100-500 employee segment which is outside of the sweet spot of other SAP midmarket solutions – BusinessOne and Business All-in-One).
  • One also needs to look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of SaaS vs. on-premise solutions. A recent paper investigated details on this, The TCO of Cloud Computing in the SMB and Mid–Market Enterprises; A total cost of ownership comparison of cloud and on–premise business applications. Thee general conclusions are:
    • Considering a 4 year TCO, works in favor of the SaaS ERP solutions when the number of users is less than 400 users. Beyond these numbers of users, the on-premise TCO starts to become better (lower). These would be mostly enterprise companies, who favor on-premise solutions.
    • When considers a TCO beyond 4 years, on-premise solutions are better (lower). Again, these tend to be larger companies.
  • Most of the SaaS vendors like Salesforce.com and NetSuite have a much higher sales and marketing expenses ratio (~ 54% of revenue as shown in the smoothspan post Why Do SaaS Companies Lose Money Hand Over Fist?) primarily driven by their direct sales model. For Business ByDesign, for which SAP is promoting a channel driven model, this percentage should be lower.
  • R&D spending of 16% by SaaS companies – the strategy that needs to be explored by vendors looking to develop SaaS products, they need to seriously consider SaaS platforms like force.com (from Salesforce.com) and QuickBase (from Intuit). The developers that have used these platforms, have significantly reduced both their initial R&D spending and also their product development timeframe, brining SaaS solutions to market in some cases 1-2 years sooner. These SaaS/cloud platforms-as-a-service were not available when SAP embarked on development of ByD (or would they have used one, even if it was available…I am sure they have developed a significant internal expertise with this development experience). It is prudent for SAP to control the roll-out of Business-ByDesign until the product, delivery and channel kinks have been worked out. Prediction – Past experience with German engineering should alert the ERP market that in 2010, SAP will probably deliver a successful mid-market SaaS ERP solution for the core mid-market.

Reviewing the above, including good reviews from the current customers of Business ByDesign, it would be prudent for SAP not to scale back efforts on the roll-out of Business ByDesign – as strategy they have consistently communicating to the market.

July 7, 2009

The Compelling TCO Case for Cloud-based business applications in SMB and Mid-Market Enterprises

A 4-year total cost of ownership (TCO) perspective comparing cloud and on-premise business application deployment

Small and medium businesses (SMBs) face a tricky dilemma in today’s tough economic climate. It’s no longer business as usual; companies need to figure out how to survive through the current downturn, and get on track to capitalize on new opportunities that will emerge as the economy starts to grow again. They need business solutions to help them to manage more efficiently day-to-day, and also the intelligence they need to move the business forward.

As SMBs weather through turbulent economic storms, total cost of ownership (TCO) is often top of mind when evaluating new business applications. Many customers have become interested in how cloud computing or software-as-a-service (SaaS) can help lower their costs by eliminating upfront capital investments and ongoing maintenance costs associated with on-premise solutions.

Hurwitz & Associates recently completed an in-depth study comparing TCO of cloud-based business application and equivalent on-premise solutions.

Cloud computing essentially eliminates the need for customers to buy, deploy and maintain IT infrastructure or application software individually. Regardless of the application, the cloud computing vendor takes responsibility for all of the infrastructure required to run the solution–servers, backup, software, operating systems, databases, updates, migration, power and cooling, facility space, etc., and associated internal and third-party staffing costs. Because cloud computing vendors manage all of their customers on a single instance of the software, they can amortize costs over thousands of customers. This yields substantial economies of scale and skill, and lowers TCO.

Key findings from our analysis include:

  • Overall TCO for cloud-based integrated solution suite is significantly lower than a comparable on-premise solution. This holds true for both SMB and mid-market firms.
  • IT Infrastructure costs (hardware, software and maintenance) account for about 10% of the total cost of deploying on-premise business applications.
  • The cost advantages of cloud computing slowly taper off as the number of users increases beyond mid-market to larger enterprise companies.
  • Application subscription costs account for two-thirds of the total solution cost in the cloud computing model, where the subscription fee encompasses underlying IT infrastructure and personnel costs required to manage business solution. In comparison, business application costs comprise about 27% of total cost in an on-premise situation.
  • Costs for internal IT staff and/or value-added reseller (VAR), consultant or systems integrator (SI) resources required for application implementation and support represent a significantly higher percentage of total cost for on-premise solutions than for cloud-based business solutions.
  • Pre-integrated front and back office functionality in the integrated business application offering contributes to reducing integration complexity and lowers application implementation costs.

March 19, 2009

BroadSoft now supporting Hosted Video Unified Communications creating new revenue opportunities for Service Provider partners

BroadSoft, the leading provider of hosted PBX platform, VoIP services and unified communications solutions is now supporting video communication solutions from the leading video communications vendors – Tandberg, Polycom and LifeSize.

As SMBs become more distributed and globalized, efficient communications and collaboration are becoming increasingly difficult with utilizing only applications like e-mail and audio conferencing solutions. These companies are turning to affordable web and video conferencing solutions to resolve and optimize the above issues.

In the current difficult economic environments and with increasing travel expenses (both domestic and international) and time commitment required, the new affordable and easy-to-use hosted video conferencing systems that may be conference room or desktop based, the reduction in travel costs is providing rapid ROI and savings in travel time providing increased employee productivity – leading to increased adoption even among SMBs globally. In addition, as SMBs become more environmentally aware and responsible, these solutions help support the need to reduce carbon emissions and provide support for ‘green’ initiatives.

In my discussions with several small and mid-market SMBs in the last several weeks, an increasing percentage of the SMB and mid-market enterprises distributed over several locations, are now seriously considering video conferencing solutions. Some of the larger financial and private venture companies are looking at 3 Tier solutions. The top Tier of Telepresence solution at corporate locations to communicate with key accounts for executive management, Tier 2 small conference room solutions for teams/workgroup meetings and training sessions, Tier 3 of personal integrated or desktop system for more regular 1:1 communication sessions. As the adoption of “presence” becomes more prevalent for IP devices and unified communications, integration of video communications into presence engines will further increase interest and adoption; new video conferencing solutions are based on standards and allow easy integration with other audio visual systems at partner and customer sites.

The ability to use standard web browsers with hosted solutions, off-the-shelf web cameras, and existing network infrastructure has accelerated the popularity and growth of web-based video conferencing market and has helped to drive its adoption into new industries and applications. As video communication solutions now support reservationless On-demand conferencing, they let employees hold impromptu meeting, without pre-scheduling these meetings – allowing them to collaborate when they need to, with whomever they need to, provided both parties have access to video conferencing systems.

Vendors are recognizing the market opportunity and value of video conferencing solutions for the SMB market and are making available systems that are affordable and easy-to-install/ use/manage because SMBs typically don’t have the IT staff to support these solutions. In some instances these solutions can be managed remotely by VARs and service providers. However, they are still a ways away from a price that will explode mainstream adoption in the global SMB markets.

Key Drivers for Video Conferencing Solutions in the SMB Market:

  • Availability of affordable HD/SD Video Conferencing Systems, both web and on-premise based Video Conferencing solutions
  • Support for Unified Communications
    supporting integration of video with UC desktop and smartphone applications
  • Support for end-to-end video solutions
  • Increasing employee productivity and enhancing organizational efficiency
  • Better and more interactive real-time communication and collaboration between employees
  • Need to interconnect distributed branch offices (within country and international locations), better interaction with outsourcing partners
  • Enhance the ability of distributed workforce to communicate and collaborate among themselves, and with customers/ partners
  • Save travel costs and meeting expenses
  • Ability to utilize off-the-shelf video cameras and headsets
  • Increased bandwidth availability and lower cost of high bandwidth connectivity
  • Increased adoption of rich media communications – video
  • Scaling knowledge by making domain experts more accessible and productive

Applications/Markets — Horizontally across all mid-market companies’ sales, marketing, training (for distributed employees, partners, and customers), recruitment, and product development are the key application segments. Vertical industries including financial services, professional services, technology, manufacturing, healthcare, oil and gas, law, entertainment and education are among the top adopters of video conferencing solutions. New applications for video conferencing are being launched with greater frequency as deployment increases; increases in travel costs are prompting SMBs to interview potential employees as this allows one to interact virtually face-to-face.

February 23, 2009

Cloud Computing and Managed Services Opportunity – Is it the Large Enterprises or SMB/Mid-Market Enterprises?

The convergence of web delivered IT services – Cloud Computing, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Hosted Applications, Software-as-a-Service, Virtualization – will continue to redefine and add value to the SMB/mid-market IT services landscape, especially in the current economic climate.

Our outlook calls for rapid increase in adoption of various Cloud Computing and Managed Services components over the next 2-3 years as businesses look to cut costs and reduce capital expenses. This adoption will still be on a piece-meal – with Online Storage/Archival and related services, Hosted applications, Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery and SaaS delivered Business Applications being the most sought-after capabilities (SMB/Mid-Market Key IT Initiatives in the Current Market Environment blog). We see early adoption of these services starting in 2008-2009 and gaining more momentum into the mainstream market by 2011-2013 when the global economy emerges from the current financial conundrum.

It is interesting to see some of the SaaS companies like Salesforce.com focus on small number of enterprise accounts which account for half of their revenues through their direct sales force (they don’t have much of a channel presence). Even in the recent earnings call for NetSuite (again majority of the focus is on direct sales with some VAR efforts), all the financial analysts had questions only on the large account focus. In the U.S.(total 6.5 million businesses with commercial locations), there are less than 0.1% large enterprises(more than 1000 employees) and 0.4% midmarket-enterprises(500-999 employees); the remaining 99.5% are SMB companies. As the low hanging opportunities in large enterprises are already converted into customers, the growth of these SaaS companies is slowing. Why the continued focus on large enterprise, direct sales focus?

Well, to begin, if a vendor is serious about selling to the SMB segment, they should first seek to become their market channel, or connect to their channel – a strategy and value proposition they need to create. The SaaS value propositions that convinced the large enterprises do not always work well for the elusive SMB segment, which is a much more difficult and complicated market, but offers tremendous revenue potential. Although, with somewhat different value propositions, pricing and revenue models.

Who are the well positioned channels or links to the channel to enable selling to the SMB and mid-market enterprises? This can be addressed by segmenting this SMB/mid-market market and then looking at the channels that are well positioned to sell to the various segments based on the existing relationships and touch points. A topic for a future blog!

The vendors that have a good lead in the cloud computing segment are Amazon.com, some of the hosted services vendors like Rackspace and Savvis, and managed services vendors like Iron Mountain, IBM, BT and EMC. Virtualization will play a big role in this migration; vendors like Citrix, VMware and Microsoft are developing cloud services and platforms to help virtualize the data centers of some of the cloud solution and services vendors. Who out of these vendors understand how to navigate the complex SMB segment?

Cloud Computing and managed services providers (and their technology partners) need to learn from the business models of SaaS companies and early cloud computing vendors. Then put in place strategies and channels to capitalize on the huge IT services opportunity in the SMB and mid-market enterprises that lack the IT and financial resources of large enterprises, outside of the small number of technologically sophisticated SMBs and software developers (ISVs) that are the early adopters and have the IT resources to leverage the cloud solutions and services. In addition, by taking advantage of the internets’ low-cost marketing and delivery capabilities, companies can profitably mine the “long tail” of the SMB market.

February 6, 2009

IBM Dynamic Infrastructure Announcement and the Mid-Market Enterprise

With today’s ‘Dynamic Infrastructure’ initiative announcement, IBM is positioning itself as a holistic technology solution and service provider and partner. It combines all the element of separate cloud delivered services (cloud based, managed, and on-premise) and also traditional on-premise hardware, software and services.

  • Managed Services
  • Cloud Computing
  • Software-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service
  • Traditional on-premise based software, hardware and service

If IBM is to become a trusted partner of mid-market enterprises, they need to present a vision of a holistic technology/solutions partner that understands the mid-market enterprise and the value proposition that IBM’s Dynamic Infrastructure brings. Several vendors can offer pieces of these solutions like managed services or SaaS, etc., but no single vendor has the experience, product/services portfolio, industry experience and partner/ISV ecosystem to become this trusted partners. IBM has the market presence, solutions and partner ecosystem to be this vendor with the ‘Dynamic Infrastructure’ initiative.

Why will IBM be more successful with this strategy in the mid-market?

Several vendors have offered pieces of this service successfully to the SMB and mid-market. However, the mid-market enterprises has limited IT resources and technology expertise. Some of these businesses have adopted segments of this type of solution, piece-meal from several different vendors. Vendor A provides managed security service, vendor B provides online backup service, the vendor C provides on-premise virtualization solutions, etc. When the mid-market enterprise experiences problems – they don’t know who to turn to. Some managed service providers (MSPs) are re-inventing themselves as aggregators of several of these services and have started to see partial success. These MSPs lack some of the deep industry/technology expertise and also some of the flexible computing cloud computing infrastructure that provides the reliability, high-availability and SLA’s essential for getting the mindshare of mid-market enterprises for whom things like these are critical.

How will this service resonate with mid-market enterprises in today’s tough economic climate?

  • If these recessionary conditions are deep and protracted – the mid-market enterprises need to reduce costs by reducing IT resources, postponing upgrades of existing IT infrastructure and applications. These enterprises (especially if they are growth oriented companies) will be able to benefit significantly by this initiatives. When looking at a 3-5 year TCO provided by this initiative. This initiative helps preserve upfront capital expenditures and cash and shifts them to monthly operational expenses.
    • IBM can also benefit with the availability of IBM Financial Services programs for the mid-market
  • If these recessionary conditions are shallow and short – mid-market enterprises will be more inclined to stay the course and possibly look at new initiatives like ‘Dynamic Infrastructure’ over a longer time horizon.

What IBM needs to do to win in the mid-market enterprise with this initiative?

  • Need to engage the regional mid-market service providers(MSPs) more as they have the direct relationship with the mid-market customers.
  • These mid-market service providers can provide the ongoing day-day relationship with the client, 7X24 active management of the services provided to their client, onsite component of the interaction with the client.
  • These MSPs will provide the on-going care-and-feeding and training required to make this program successful.
  • IBM needs to provide a more comprehensive value proposition and short-term ROI with financing and flexible payment plans to get the mindshare of the mid-market enterprises and the ecosystem partners.
  • Convince VAR to work with IBM to offer a bigger portfolio of IBM Dynamic Infrastructure services.

January 27, 2009

Cloud Computing and Services – Can this provide the market disruption in the current economic environment!

Cloud computing and services include any subscription-based service that is delivered over the internet in real time, providing flexibility by extending an enterprises internal IT resources, staff and expertise. It encompasses several of the web-based solutions/services listed below.

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service:
    • A way to add computing, storage and bandwidth capabilities in real-time without investing in additional in-house IT infrastructure or support personnel
    • The customer has no incremental investment in servers, storage, support and management people and expenses.
    • Solutions for server, storage, security, high availability/disaster recovery, web content  delivery
    • Key Examples:  Amazon, IBM, AT&T
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS):
    • The application developer delivers the application supporting a multitenant architecture over the internet that is accessed using a web browser.   Includes application platform and ISV applications developed  using  that platform.
    • The customer has no  incremental upfront  investment in server or software  licenses for these applications.
    • Solutions for business, collaboration, productivity applications
    • Key Examples:  Netsuite, Salesforce.com, Google, Cisco/WebEx, CitrixOnLine, Microsoft.
  • Managed Services (MSP):
    • Provide outsourcing or out-tasking of specific application, network, and systems management functions. Management can mean simply monitoring, or it can include management and performance monitoring of the application, system tuning, corrective actions for systems on customer’s premises.
    • This service is delivered remotely over the network from the Service Provider or VARs data center, some MSPs provide onsite management/support as required.
    • The customer has reduced need for IT expertise and support.
    • Solutions for security, data backup, remote server/ desktop/network management, desktop virtualization.
    • Key Examples: Iron Mountain, EMC, Symantec, AT&T, SunGard, HP, IBM, Verisign
  • Hosted Services (HSP):
    • Hosted Services provider host, service, and  update the infrastructure systems and/or applications software at their data center. These systems/software is owned and managed by the service provider, and are either dedicated or shared (multitenet).
    • The value-added services/ applications are delivered remotely over the network from the service provider or VARs data center to the end-user.
    • The customer has no incremental upfront  investment in server, storage, and support people (maybe for software licenses) for these services.
    • Solutions for business, database, e-commerce, productivity, communication applications
    • Key Examples: Savvis, Rackspace, Navisite, Sungard, AT&T.
  •  Cloud architectures have the ability to scale to meet customer demand and traffic spikes in real time. Businesses don’t have to constantly re-engineer their environment and add systems to handle peak loads. Businesses don’t have to wrestle with the underlying infrastructure and core technologies or the day-to-day operational, performance and scalability issues of their IT infrastructure. Instead, they can focus their resources on the core business functions.

    The primary target market and consumers for the various segments of the external cloud computing services are SMBs, mid-market enterprises and departments of large enterprises. In addition to the cloud services vendors, the VAR channel and Service Providers (network) will play a few role in the cloud computing ecosystem. What is the short-term prognosis for these services? The SMB and mid-market businesses are under severe pressures in the current recessionary economic climate. They are considering all option that help them control costs (both systems and people resources) to get through the current economic conditions and credit crunch. They are open to new and innovative ideas.

    Will these market conditions provide the disruption that the cloud initiatives need to drive demand and market uptake?

     

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