Last week at IBM’s Impact Conference in Las Vegas, the company announced a new cloud marketplace, an ‘app store’-like clearing house for IBM cloud services and those from third-party partners.
This is a break from IBM’s traditional sales channel approach to market their growing portfolio of cloud services including Softlayer for infrastructure, BlueMix for development and more than 100 cloud-based software services including recent purchases of Silverpop and Cloudant. According to Steve Robinson, IBM’s GM of platform services, the marketplace is an attempt by the company to pull all of these pieces together and provide customers with a one-stop location where they can explore and even test different products.
IBM is also inviting developers who have created cloud-based solutions (using IBM services such as apps built on BlueMix or apps running on SoftLayer) to market their products on the site as well.
The site is designed to help customers find the services that are most useful to them by categorizing the different offerings to match the customer’s role, so, for example, people in operations will be lead to the SoftLayer channel, developers to BlueMix and so forth.
The interesting part of the featured solution topics is that they direct you products based on your particular interests. For example, if you enter the Solution for Startups section you are presented with a collection of services targeted at small- to medium-sized businesses looking to get started with a cloud offering. You’ll see marketing products such as mobile messaging for marketing, digital marketing and messaging, Email marketing, and social media channel analysis. You’ll also find offerings for e-commerce, targeted website display ads, and more. If you go to the Solution for Mobile section you’ll find tools for developing push notifications for iOS and Android devices and cloud-based storage for mobile data.
While some of the offerings are duplicated across multiple sections each section presents these products in a way that tries to match the product with a task that the user is likely to be interested in. So a developer and a mobile person may see the same mobile application management tool but they are presented in slightly different ways.
And, while it may not be there forever, they do have a pop-up window that asks if you would like to chat with a sales representative live (plus numerous opportunities to request more information), so if you have questions about anything on the site it shouldn’t be too hard to get a quick answer.
It’s sort of an interesting approach to selling cloud services and may very well be just what you (or someone) is looking for. If nothing else it gives people a way to poke around IBM’s cloud offerings and see if something catches their fancy.
You can check out IBM’s new cloud marketplace site here.