Movers & Shakers Interview with JD Wells, Worldwide Sales Leader, IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions

Dec 19, 2019

In a recent Frost & Sullivan survey, 75% of IT leaders across all industries said that the cloud is the most critical part of their company’s transformation; while 81% said it was essential to remaining competitive in their industries. For service providers, particularly independent software vendors (ISVs) and managed service providers (MSPs) whose revenue depends on delivering software-based products and services, the urgency to digitally transform is great. ISVs and MSPs need to accelerate service delivery and streamline internal processes. They must also be able to easily develop software and services that leverage the advanced technologies that clients need to transform their own businesses, all while ensuring that sensitive data is protected. These services must also be delivered to clients from the infrastructure or location of their choice—whether on their own premises or in the public cloud.

Today, Frost & Sullivan talks to IBM’s worldwide sales leader for IBM Cloud VMware Solutions, JD Wells, to understand the importance of digital transformation for channel partners, the complexities of moving a legacy business to the cloud, and how IBM can help ease the transition—particularly for partners migrating VMware environments.

F&S: In the digital era, the technology ecosystem is becoming more complex. Companies in every industry are developing and delivering software products. Independent software vendors are moving away from proprietary standalone software in favor of flexible solutions that easily integrate with a host of partner solutions. As a cloud infrastructure leader, how are you addressing the evolving landscape?

JD: IBM Cloud has been rapidly innovating and is already running some of the world’s largest cloud-native workloads on IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service (IKS). We are also rapidly growing our recently launched managed Red Hat OpenShift Kubernetes Service (ROKS). And, for companies who haven’t fully ported or developed on cloud-native stacks, IBM Cloud offers the widest selection of compute platforms with unmatched access and customization.

F&S: As a follow-on: ecosystem complexity is further compounded by the numerous infrastructures most companies are using to support their business. Today, nearly 40% of businesses have adopted a hybrid IT environment; within two years, that number will increase to 72%. How is IBM reducing complexity for businesses integrating hybrid solutions?

JD: The ability for companies and partners to run x86, Power and Z workloads all together on one platform, combined with IBM Cloud’s industry leading VMware service, makes IBM Cloud the perfect landing spot to rapidly and thoughtfully transform existing workloads, without the pain of having to rip and replace existing hardware. Organizations can maximize the ROI of existing workloads and strategically modernize the components of their stacks that bring the biggest return, whether that’s public, private, or hybrid cloud.

F&S: For many businesses, the VMware hypervisor stack has been a foundation on which IT has standardized. Many such businesses may experience challenges in migrating their VMware workloads to the cloud; 52% of IT leaders cite migrating applications or data as a key challenge in deploying their hybrid cloud. How does IBM help VMware-based partners, and their end customers, to migrate to the cloud?

JD: Just one of many key differentiators of IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions is that it gives customers full vSphere and vCenter access without any artificial limitations. This removes the concern of whether an existing VMware workload can be ported as-is. By enabling VMware to run in the cloud with the same level of access available on-premises, IBM Cloud allows customers and partners to quickly and confidently shift workloads using their existing setup and software tools.

This level of access and control is also valuable for our partners, as they are able to provide value to our shared clients through managed and professional services, and are able to guide clients confidently on technology selection. IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions gives partners the proper access to stand up or deploy solutions in cases where particular tools or applications may not be supported in competitive VMware cloud services.

F&S: Today, nearly every business is using the cloud to run at least some applications. But for technology partners—e.g., ISVs, MSPs—the stakes are especially high; the cloud is the foundation on which their entire business is based. How does that urgency influence the way partners should approach the choice of cloud provider? What should partners look for in a cloud provider?

JD: Just as organizations are going through digital transformations, we’re also seeing a transformation in the partner ecosystem. Traditional routes and roles are changing, and this is being driven, in part, by cloud IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services. When it comes to selecting a cloud provider, reputation and reach are just as important as technology. With IBM’s long history of market leadership, partners are able to instantly enhance their brand on a global scale. IBM Business Partners work closely with IBM Cloud to develop and co-promote their services or products.

The key to partner growth is highly dependent on the other companies and vendors they strategically align with. When choosing a cloud provider, building on a platform that enables easy replication of a partner’s current practices and sales, while also providing cutting-edge technology that is open and secure, is key. Partners need the freedom to run their workloads however and wherever they want, without concerns about vendor lock-in or data privacy.

F&S: How does IBM Cloud meet the escalating needs of partners?

JD: IBM Cloud is built on a hybrid, multicloud, open, secure, and data-focused strategy. What this means for our partners is that the IBM Cloud platform has been designed to operate alongside existing on-premises, colocation, or even other clouds, leveraging the best open technologies. Our clients have the flexibility to run or develop their stack wherever it works best for them. There are virtually no limits to what can run on top of IBM Cloud when combined with our pure bare-metal offerings on both x86 and Power systems hardware. Partners have the unmatched capability to guide their customers, as they see fit, without worrying if the technology will run. They also have access to an avenue of license sales that many other cloud platforms have walled off. When building on IBM Cloud, customers and partners have direct access to subject matter and industry experts through our standard support service. They can also leverage advanced or premium support services, if needed, to accelerate response times and gain guided assistance.

F&S: With competition increasing across most industries, and new market entrants challenging existing businesses, being able to bring new services to market quickly to further differentiate your business is critical. Among IT leaders, 64% say their cloud has helped them deliver new services faster; while 58% say cloud allows them to be more agile and responsive to the business. How can IBM Cloud for VMware solutions help partners and their customers be more agile and introduce new services to market quickly?

JD: The beauty of IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions is it’s just like deploying VMware on the partner’s or customer’s premises without all of the challenges of procurement and hardware compatibility. IBM Cloud takes this burden from the partner or client, enabling cloud administrators to simply order at the click of a button or a call of the API. With that capability, a fully operational VMware SDDC stack can be stood up in just hours, instead of the days or months it would normally take, depending on the scale and hardware build time. vSphere ESXi nodes can also be dynamically added or removed. Hardware can even be upgraded in placeto increase RAM, direct-attached storage or compute. This capability makes it very simple to level-up existing VMware workloads that may be running on aging hardware or vSphere versions.

Once on IBM Cloud, partners have access to a rich portfolio of VMware automated solutions, such as IBM Spectrum Protect, Zerto and Veeam, which are excellent tools to accelerate cloud migration and adoption through data protection. Partners can further enhance their offerings with a wide catalog of services like IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service (IKS), Red Hat OpenShift, Watson, and Cloud Object Storage which cost pennies compared to servicing SAN, NAS and managed databases.

F&S: Final question: What will the future bring for technology partners, and how will IBM continue to support them?

JD: IBM has a long and valued history with partners, and we’re looking at a very bright future together. To help accelerate our partners, we have invested heavily in training programs. We’ve also recently launched a program giving thousands of cloud credits to new partners to help them advance their cloud practices, and we have similar programs available to existing partners.

Our top sales teams are also aligned with our partners. So, no matter where a partner is on their journey to the cloud, IBM experts are right there alongside them to ensure their success.

You can learn more about the benefits of becoming an IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions partner at

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Karyn Price


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