In October, IBM and AT&T released an announcement that speaks loudly about the importance of partnerships in the cloud marketplace. Companies pursue partnerships when they recognize that if they work together, they will have a better chance of success than if they act separately. While some companies prefer to go it alone, other partner-friendly companies like IBM and AT&T recognize two things about business clouds. First, no company has all the pieces of the puzzle,. Second, customers prefer to have their suppliers integrate complementary technologies and solutions so they don't have to.
For IBM, cloud computing is still more mindshare than marketshare, expected to contribute less than 2% of its $100B+ global revenue in 2012 (as discussed in "Can IBM's Strategy to Build Customer Private Clouds and IBM and Partner Cloud Services Protect its One Hundred Billion Dollar Business?"). However, the high levels of customer interest in moving IT apps and infrastructure to private and public clouds provide clear indications that IBM's traditional IT hardware, software and services business is at risk over the next 5-10 years unless it becomes a leading provider of a wide range of cloud options from which current and prospective customers will be choosing. This need to redefine its offerings and how they are delivered and consumed by customers is what is driving the partnership with AT&T whose global network and corporate customer base present opportunities for making IBM cloud services more accessible around the world.
For AT&T, the partnership adds the ability to resell IBM cloud services alongside its own AT&T cloud services with the added credibility that IBM brings as a trusted supplier and advisor to corporate IT organizations around the world. IBM and AT&T need each other's help in competing against IaaS cloud market and mind share leader Amazon whose server and storage public and virtual private clouds and private high-bandwidth network connectivity. are directly competitive with IBM and AT&T cloud and VPN offerings.