Cloud Provider Connectria In Major Partnership Push
November 5, 2018 Alex Woodie
The IBM i cloud market is quite fragmented, with dozens of companies angling to deliver IBM i hosting services, often to a geographic or industrial niche. Now one of the biggest fish in this little pond, Connectria, is looking to solidify its foothold in IBM i cloud hosting by building a network of VARs, software vendors, and other companies that share its vision.
In May, IBM i chief architect Steve Will teased us about Google getting into the IBM i hosting business. While IBM and the Alphabet subsidiary work together with the OpenPower consortium, there’s still no indication that Google Cloud currently has – or ever had — any plans to deliver an IBM i cloud.
That ostensibly leaves a handful of managed services providers (MSPs) like Connectria to continue servicing the IBM i market. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Connectria is one of the largest – if not the largest – private IBM i cloud providers in the world, with more than 500 IBM i LPARs under management, according to Scott Azzolina, the company’s vice president of strategic alliances and channels.
Like all MSPs who service IBM i, serving CPWs accounts for a minority of the total hosted workload under management. However, because of the business-critical nature of IBM i applications – not to mention the need for pricier Power Systems servers – the IBM i deals are more valuable for Connectria. And when you consider that those IBM i deals also tend to drag with them a fair amount of Windows and Linux workloads, then you understand how important winning IBM i workloads can be to Connectria and its competitors.
Recently, Azzolina was selected to head up a new initiative at Connectria to boost the company’s partner ecosystem. Dynamix Group, a Roswell, Georgia-based VAR that sells IBM, Cisco Systems, and Dell servers as well as Pure Storage and Infinidat storage, was the first partner, while Fresche Solutions, the Quebec-based provider of IBM i modernization software and services, was the second.
Azzolina tells IT Jungle that the aim of the partner program is to jumpstart sales by expanding the company’s reach.
“We grew our business predominantly through our direct sales team, and now we want to grow more exponentially than we have in the past,” he says. “For many years, we had 10 percent to 12 percent year on year growth. Now we’re getting much more aggressive. I’ve taken this role on to really expand our partnership overall with a major focus on IBM i because it’s where we have a strong pedigree. It’s a big piece of our business and we tend to win in that space.”
The partnership will help both parties, Azzolina says. If one of Connectria’s customers is in need of some application modernization, they would refer them to Fresche. Likewise, if one of Fresche’s customers wants to get out of the server business, they can get space in Connectria’s private cloud. The company also offers dedicated Power Systems hosting and remote management and administration of IBM i environments that remain on customers’ premises.
“At the end of the day, we’re a managed services company,” Azzolina says. “For these folks who are in the space, they may have a need for what we provide, so we’re trying to expand our partners ecosystem.”
Jennifer Fisher, vice president of business engineering and ecosystem at Fresche, says the company is excited about what this partnership can bring to the IBM i community.
“More and more companies are turning to the cloud, so Connectria brings tremendous value with a variety of offerings that help IBM i clients make the move to a cloud-based solution,” Fisher states in a press release. “They are trusted advisors to clients who can now leverage their Connectria relationship to access a full range of modernization solutions with Connectria’s inclusion in the Fresche Power Partner Program.”
Connectria is also reaching out to systems integrators, ERP vendors, and companies that offer other services to bring them into the partnership program. In the coming the weeks, the company is planning to unveil a partnership with a provider of third-party maintenance services for IBM i ERP applications, Azzolina says.
And Infor and SAP, both of which have considerable IBM i installed bases, are also possible candidates. “We want to be one of those partners with them [Infor] as well and others, the SAP’s of the world and their channels,” he says. “We would like to have a partnership with them.”
Azzolina says he would welcome partnership opportunities from additional vendors and service providers in the IBM i space. “Just about anybody in the space could be a potential partner for us,” he says.