By Charles King, Pund-IT® June 29, 2022
IT infrastructure services are one of the least understood areas in enterprise technology. That is partly the fault of tech vendors who use the term as a bin to contain whatever data center consulting offerings they prefer or are promoting. But more importantly, difficulties in pinning down or defining the meaning of infrastructure services reflects their continuing evolution.
In essence, IT infrastructure services are designed to help enterprises adopt and deploy complex solutions and tools and adapt to or prepare for promising new technologies. Meaning that the shape and intent of offerings that service providers like Kyndryl provide are in flux according to its customers’ current and upcoming needs.
In other words, it is more important to understand how service vendors are adapting to those changes than to pigeonhole them into rapidly outmoded or redundant definitions. Kyndryl’s collaborations with hybrid cloud strategic partners is a good example of how this process works and can succeed.
Build, acquire or partner
Before delving into Kyndryl’s alliances, let’s consider the relative value of strategic partnerships. Generally, organizations develop or enhance products and services by building them from the ground up, acquiring new assets, intellectual property or organizations with necessary skills or collaborating with companies already present or experienced in target markets.
Building solutions is the most conservative approach financially and can also be less stressful since projects are managed in concert with other strategic imperatives. But in-house development also requires substantially more time than other approaches, and the potential for success is harder to gauge. A company may produce a terrific product or solution only to have that work undercut, blocked or defeated by faster or more aggressive competitors.
In contrast, acquisitions provide much quicker routes to market and, depending on the assets or organizations being purchased, can also bring along a significant number of satisfied customers and potential prospects. Some purchases can also effectively advance the acquiring company into a market leadership position. IBM’s deal for Red Hat is a good example of this since, along with its Enterprise Linux (RHEL) solutions and tools, the company also offers mainstay cloud, hybrid cloud and cloud native products that have become de facto offerings for many businesses.
The barriers to acquisition are primarily financial, but such deals also carry the highest risks. Paying millions or billions for a strategically valuable company is no guarantee of success. In fact, the history of Silicon Valley is populated with spectacular deals that also failed spectacularly, and ideal “marriages” with catastrophically acrimonious endings.
Which is where strategic partnerships come in. On the plus side, these alliances enable involved parties to benefit from one another’s complementary products and expertise, and typically speed the time-to-market of these combined solutions. The partners’ respective reputations can also heighten the value of collaborative offerings and services. Finally, partnership deals usually include clauses that allow one or all parties to walk away if circumstances change or hoped for benefits fail to appear.
In short, strategic partnerships provide most of the benefits of in-house development and acquisitions but carry few, if any, of the risks.
Kyndryl’s hybrid cloud partnerships
Since its official launch last November, Kyndryl has announced over 20 strategic partnerships. While many of those focus on the company’s core infrastructure solutions, Kyndryl is also quickly building out partnerships, expertise and offerings in cloud and hybrid cloud.
These include alliances with three leading cloud hyperscalers—Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud—as well as a strategic partnership with Red Hat whose Ansible Automation Platform will be the primary enterprise automation solution across Kyndryl’s infrastructure services portfolio. During its most recent quarterly earnings call, Kyndryl noted that it began marketing cloud-related services tied to hyperscaler alliances, completed its first signings and built a pipeline of more than $1 billion of signings opportunities.
Most recently, the company announced cloud-focused partnerships with Veritas and Oracle:
- The relationship between Kyndryl and Veritas is designed to help enterprises protect and recover their critical data across multi-cloud environments; under the agreement, Kyndryl will deliver Veritas’ industry-leading data management portfolio to enterprise customers as a fully managed service. Those services include, Security Assurance Services: Security, Strategy & Risk Management, Offensive Security Testing, and Compliance Management; Zero Trust Services: Identity & Access Management, Endpoint Security, Network Security, Application & Workload Security, Data Protection & Privacy, and Analytics, Automation & Orchestration; Security Operations and Response: Advanced Threat Detection, Incident Response and Forensics; and Incident Recovery Services: Cyber Incident Recovery, Managed Backup Services, Hybrid Platform Recovery and Data Center Design & Facilities.
- Kyndryl’s alliance with Oracle will help customers by delivering managed cloud solutions worldwide. To achieve those aims, Kyndryl will become a key delivery partner for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), expanding upon its deep experience of working with and supporting customers using Oracle products and services. Kyndryl will leverage its participation in Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) to extend the reach of its global cloud services delivery capabilities. As an Oracle partner, Kyndryl will focus on cross-industry services to help customers modernize their applications and databases for the cloud. Key areas of focus for the services include resiliency and disaster recovery options leveraging OCI, network and edge computing capabilities using Oracle’s Roving Edge Infrastructure and Kyndryl Managed Services, data analytics enabled by Kyndryl’s IT-specific applied AI, and advanced database consolidation and migration of on-prem ERP software to OCI. Kyndryl also plans to offer new services that leverage Oracle technologies to help companies modernize and move their applications and databases to the cloud. Plus, Kyndryl intends to create solutions in data modernization and governance, AI-driven industry innovations, cyber security and resiliency, and transformation of mission-critical workloads to the cloud.
Kyndryl’s Veritas and Oracle partnerships both focus on cloud solutions and services, but they are quite different individually. It seems fair to say that the former will be essentially incremental to Kyndryl’s overall business since the company already offers a range of security and resilience services.
The effort’s focus on multi-cloud is a solid strategic approach given the challenges that companies face in securing and governing data in an increasingly fraught and hostile threat landscape. Overall, the resulting solutions will likely be initially impactful for enterprises already using or considering Veritas solutions but could also lead to future opportunities and engagements for both companies.
The Kyndryl/Oracle relationship is far broader and more substantial. For one thing, it focuses on a wider range of solutions, services and use cases. Plus, it adds weight to the two companies’ longstanding efforts with mutual enterprise customers. That is a muscular foundation for building out new global services and offerings leveraging both OCI and OPN.
However, it is also worth noting that the collaboration’s shape and implications would likely never have occurred when Kyndryl was part of IBM. Though Oracle and IBM obviously shared thousands of common customers (the pair’s leadership in their respective enterprise solution categories make that a fact of life), their businesses also overlap in numerous areas, including cloud computing, lending the relationship more than a little edge of “frenemies” or “co-opetition”. Being or becoming a “key delivery partner for OCI” would have been highly unlikely or impossible for an IBM BU.
With those restrictions behind it, Kyndryl is now free to act and to engage with any strategic ally it chooses. Working with the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider should be a boon for Oracle’s cloud, enterprise and industry-focused businesses. Collaborating with the market’s leading enterprise database vendor which also offers a wide range of corporate and cloud solutions should pay substantial dividends for Kyndryl. Overall, this is likely to be a deal that will deliver substantial benefits to both companies, as well as to their customers and partners.
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