IBM has shed more light on its cloud services strategy, including how it intends to work more closely with partners to deliver those services and moving the agenda on to delivering key business outcomes for customers.
Laura Colvine, IBM Cloud Strategy leader for UK and Eire, said that cloud is now part of the firm's growth agenda, and that the company sees itself as an enabler for partners to deliver differentiated cloud services targeted at different market sectors.
"We're providing the products and services that offer the foundation stone for cloud services that are secure and resilient and, where we are not acquiring, we are working with business partners in a very different way to provide the solutions that our clients need," she said.
However, Colvine said that IBM is now looking beyond providing the basic infrastructure, to how cloud computing can actually meet customers' business requirements.
"We're looking at industry specificity. What this means is not just having commodity services, vanilla services that are the same for everybody, but starting to recognise what's different about government, retail, health or financial services in the cloud. It's about moving on from commodity services to specialist services," she explained.
In particular, IBM said that many of the current cloud services offerings are point solutions for applications such as CRM that are effectively siloed off from other applications that customers use, and this needs to change if cloud services are to successfully integrate into business processes.
Last year, IBM acquired Cast Iron Systems, a firm specialising in tools to integrate web-based services with on-premise applications, and the technology is now being used to enable this kind of business workflow, the firm said.
"We're seeing a shift up the stack. At the moment, a lot of the cloud talk is about infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service, but the direction of travel is towards software-as-a-service, and then heading on up to business-process-as-a-service, where you really start to move into delivering the business outcome," said Colvine.
IBM's first UK accredited cloud provider is managed services firm Maxima, and the firm's cloud director, Steven Shepard, said that the partnership allowed the companies to reach out to a broader set of organisations via the cloud.
Shepard also said that cloud services make it easier for customers to try a product before committing to buying, but that the trick is to move into a "high volume" delivery model where anyone can buy into a service using just a credit card.
"Cloud is a critical enabler of our strategy for the next five years, but is also the way we're seeing our clients actually starting to unfold their own future vision. It's not only a technology agenda, it's about a smarter business," said Colvine.
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