IBM caps '20 years' of deep MS love with Surface deal

As Seattle surfaces surface as a service service. Serious....

IBM has become the latest sometime hardware giant to agree to push software giant Microsoft’s client hardware - years after selling off its own client devices business.

MS device marketing general manager Brian Hall said in a blog post that IBM had joined the Surface Enterprise Initiative along with consultancy and contracting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. MS already sells the devices via Dell and HP. Meanwhile, IBM has a two year old deal with Apple to punt iOS devices.

Hall reminded us that “Our largest global customers told us they wanted Surface, but needed the enterprise class services and support to let them easily purchase and deploy to their employees all over the world.”

He trilled “IBM will draw on its analytics and enterprise applications expertise to create new industry-specific solutions for financial services and consumer packaged goods(CPG)/retail companies that take advantage of the unique capabilities of Surface devices.”

IBM has in part pegged its future on analytics, swallowing up a slew of companies in recent years, while simultaneously offloading its client device and low-end server businesses to Lenovo.

But Microsoft has its own designs on analytics - doesn’t everyone - and Hall writes that “IBM will develop an application for CPG and retail companies that puts Microsoft Power BI on Surface to bring decision makers closer to the data and analytics they need to optimize utilization of employee time.”

“We’ll apply experience of over 20 years as a Microsoft strategic partner to ensure the mobile apps blend with our client’s existing infrastructures creating dynamic, new mobile experiences uniquely suited to the needs of their employees,” said Murray Mitchell, global leader, Microsoft Services at IBM, partaking in some mutual back slapping.

That’s an interesting take on history - IBM arguably made Microsoft when it chose Bill Gates’ stripling firm as the supplier of an OS for its first PCs way back in the early 1980s, so you might argue they were always strategic partners. But 20 years ago is when IBM finally pulled the plug on OS/2.

As for Booz Allen Hamilton, it “will develop scalable and secure solutions for Governments, the Public Sector and Healthcare verticals.”

Hall’s blog continues, “Booz Allen has chosen to partner with Surface to take advantage of the world class enterprise grade security, manageability and flexibility available only with the combination of Surface and Windows 10.”

Which will no doubt be a comfort to those government clients left fearful after a former Booz Allen contractor by the name of Edward Snowden created a bit of a stink a few years back.

It’s not just all about the old line consultants. Microsoft has also launched a program to offer Surface as a Service. The program, which we predict will be unpronouncable after two pints, will allow Cloud Solution Providers (who double up as Surface Authorised Distributors) to offer the devices as part of a managed service.

Meanwhile, four resellers - CDW, Insight, SHI and Zones - will be able to offer a Surface Multi-National Purchasing Program for multi-national customers.

The new partners join what Hall claimed was a thriving enterprise channel. He claimed that 800 customers had sourced Surfaces from Dell, and that it had grown its Surface partner fleet from 200 to “10,000 in our ecosystem”, while surface revenues had grown from $1bn per year to a current $1bn per quarter. ®

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