IBM Expands Federal Cloud Ecosystem, Spurs First Responders

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Big Blue welcomed five new partners to its federal cloud ecosystem and tapped developers to build cloud apps for first responders

IBM announced that five new cloud partners have joined its growing ecosystem serving the U.S. federal government. In addition, IBM is working with developers to create new cloud apps for first responders.

Together with IBM, these resellers and distributors will focus on delivering new hybrid cloud solutions across federal agencies. Arrow, Avnet Government Solutions, Ingram Micro, Tech Data Corporation and ViON will combine and bundle their solutions with IBM Cloud.

Yet, despite all the attention that the federal government has placed on cloud, IDC estimates that only about six percent of federal applications run in the cloud. At the same time, the Obama Administration’s proposed fiscal 2016 budget estimates that about $7.3 billion will be spent on cloud computing and not simply for cost savings, but also to change how services are delivered.

“Federal agencies are really beginning to view cloud as transformational, but first they need a reliable partner to help them get started,” said Anne Altman, general manager of IBM U.S. Federal and Government Industries, in a statement. “With our partners, we have a strong understanding of the IT investments agencies have made, and how to help them with their migrations to cloud in a secure and strategic way.”

Here to help

SeagateThe new partners include Arrow, which helps partners integrate IBM’s Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) into their products and services, and assists in building cloud solutions from the IaaS layer up.

“The federal government’s ‘Cloud First’ policy puts FedRAMP-approved data centers at the forefront of the hybrid-public cloud movement,” said Steve Robinson, global vice president and general manager of Arrow’s cloud business, in a statement. “We have a unique opportunity to deliver value to public-sector channel partners through our collaboration with IBM, and by leveraging Arrow’s commercial value-add cloud model in our federally focused immixGroup organization.”

Meanwhile, Avnet Government Solutions helps business partners accelerate the development of their cloud portfolios with a scalable, secure base for the delivery of cloud services across its entire network around the world. Avnet and IBM Cloud capabilities will allow federal agencies to place their data where and when it is required.

“With our recently opened office in the Washington, D.C., area and investments in public sector capabilities, Avnet Government Solutions is perfectly positioned to help our partners sell IBM’s FedRAMP-certified SoftLayer federal cloud,” said Pete Rzonca, vice president of Avnet Government Solutions. “For federal clients, Avnet brings more than 30 years of IBM expertise, our skilled cloud solutions team, and the recently launched Avnet Cloud Marketplace.”

For its part, Ingram Micro sells and supports IBM Cloud on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace. Through a single online portal, channel partners can configure and manage IBM Cloud while driving cross-sell and revenue-generating opportunities within its partner community. As a master cloud services provider, Ingram Micro offers its cloud onboarding capabilities, partner enablement, marketing support, and end-to-end technical and operational support to its channel partners focused on building cloud solutions.

“Ingram Micro is pleased to partner with IBM to serve U.S. federal government agencies in their transition to the cloud,” said Tarik Faouzi, vice president of Global Cloud Partners and Solutions at Ingram Micro Cloud, in a statement. “By leveraging our cloud migration capabilities and value-added services, we remove the barriers and complexity of the migration process to ensure a seamless and secure migration that supports business transformation to the cloud.”

In addition, Tech Data, one of the largest distributors of technology products, services and solutions, is working with IBM on the cloud in the federal sector. Tech Data provides logistics capabilities and value added services that enable 115,000 resellers to support the diverse technology needs of end users in more than 100 countries.

And last but not least, ViON offers its on-premise private cloud taking advantage of 13 years of experience as an IaaS solution provider. With IBM’s FedRAMP-certified SoftLayer, ViON can integrate the security of an on-premise solution with the scalability of a public cloud to address federal hybrid cloud initiatives, the company said.

“For nearly two decades, ViON’s partnership with IBM has enabled our federal customers to achieve their mission success,” said Tom Frana, CEO of ViON, in a statement. “Our customer service intimacy model coupled with IBM’s public cloud offering will allow us to continue to meet the demands of our customer today and tomorrow.”

IBM noted that federal agencies are turning to IBM’s SoftLayer Federal cloud, which integrates existing and new services in a hybrid environment, driving new innovations and helping agencies better decide, manage and secure where their data and apps reside. SoftLayer meets all Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements for government workloads.

Under terms of their agreements, the five new partners will resell and market IBM Cloud Services with a focus on implementing hybrid solutions where some applications and data remain on premise but can easily integrate with systems moved to the cloud and new services launched on the cloud. They also have access to Bluemix, IBM’s Platform as a Service; and IBM’s Software as a Service portfolio. For the federal market, IBM offers a portfolio ofFedRAMP compliant services. In December 2014, IDC named IBM a leader in U.S. Government private cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service.

Meanwhile, IBM also announced that it is providing access to the IBM Cloud as part of the First Responder Application Challenge that runs through Dec.14. IBM and its partner Vencore, in coordination with USGIFand APCO, have teamed up to develop an application ecosystem that enables the development and delivery of predictive analytic and mobile applications that can improve the operational capability of first responders, be built and delivered on the cloud, and apply data and innovation to solve real-world problems.

This challenge continues IBM’s focus on growing an ecosystem to drive further U.S. federal and public sector cloud adoption. IBM also called Bluemix a “game changer” for its ability to “deliver innovation for new cloud workloads” for the federal market. In addition, in its latest Federal Cloud Computing Competitive Landscape Snapshot, Deltek showed IBM leading the market for contracts won between 2011 and 2015.

Bluemix, which will be used by challenge participants, is proving to drive innovation in government. Last April, participants in NASA’s Space App Challenge used Bluemix, resulting in thousands of new Bluemix users. IBM is currently working with Book Zurman, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), on the Department of Veterans Affairs Care Coordination Challenge, developing proposed solutions that combine cognitive capabilities with Bluemix applications.

Innovate

Moreover, as part of a U.S. Federal Partner Acceleration Program, IBM has boosted the public sector ecosystem surrounding Bluemix. The team has hosted more than 70 events, including hackathons, challenges and workshops for the federal market and the federal system integrator community. With the growing entrepreneurial, developer and startup ecosystem supporting the federal government, academia and other business areas, the Washington Metropolitan area is ripe for this type of innovation.

“The best innovation takes place when you drive toward a common goal,” IBM’s Altman said. “And it’s no different in government, where an ecosystem of developers, academia, technologists and others come together to address challenges. “With Bluemix, we bring a cloud platform that can help all those involved in championing better solutions for our first responders through innovation to quickly build and implement new solutions.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) vision for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) includes providing an ecosystem where innovative applications are available to first responders that help improve how they carry out their duties and ultimately save lives and property.

During the challenge, participants will work directly with vendors and universities to build software applications that use a variety of real-time remote sensing data, field data, GIS tools and other content to create mobile and web-based apps. Solutions will be created using an operational application ecosystem which will allow first responders and solution providers to work together in a virtual environment designed specifically for delivery of effective, tailored first responder applications.

Vencore has developed an application ecosystem using its Intelligent Data Exploitation and Analytics System (IDEAS). Using the latest technology available from IBM, IDEAS delivers predictive analytic solutions, mobile applications, development services and collaboration services to enable first responders to define needs and work directly with providers to build and deploy tailored solutions that meet those needs.

“Our IDEAS platform brings together first responders with both content provider and app developers in a collaborative and secure environment with the objective of delivering value-added applications that directly address unmet needs in the public safety community,” said Kent Matlick, senior vice president and general manager of Vencore’s Mission Integration Group. “Vencore’s solution makes these apps easily accessible to the entire public safety community.”

To win the challenge, participants must build the best solution that addresses one or more of five unmet needs, e.g., Improving 9-1-1 services, Emergency Tracking, First Responder Assistant Apps, Easier Access to Information, Preparation and Fire Prevention, have a fully functioning app installed and running on Bluemix or IDEAS, and submit a written description of how the app functions. Details on the challenge, including criteria, rules, prizes and other information can be found here. Registration is open until Dec. 11.

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Originally published on eWeek.


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