The idea that the Cloud is disintermediating channel partners was clearly debunked at IBM’s 2012 PartnerWorld Leadership Conference held this week in New Orleans, LA. In her opening keynote this morning, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty noted that 80 percent of IBM’s partners will have done something with the Cloud by mid-year 2012.

One of the most interesting announcements at the conference was a set of new financial incentives (IBM Solution Accelerator) – referred by some as the “blue on blue partner program.” The financial incentives encourages channel partners to bundle IBM hardware and services assets with increasingly software-driven deals – components that otherwise might go to competitors. While IBM is no doubt also optimizing its hardware and software assets to provide a higher value-add than can be delivered via a separate component-focused approach – clearly, the new incentives will help pull through additional hardware and services revenue, potentially in a significant way.

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