The IBM-Adobe Partnership Is A Good Example Of Where CEO Arvind Krishna Wants To Take The Company

By Patrick Moorhead - August 20, 2020

IBM and Adobe announced a new partnership following IBM’s surprise summer Cloud capabilities, which you can read about here. I follow IBM’s on-prem to public cloud approach closely, and I think IBM and Adobe’s partnership is an intelligent move on both sides. Although I first wrote off this new partnership as another strategic alignment, I think it could be disruptive in the digital transformation of enterprises.

Adobe & IBM

The struggle with moving into these digital spaces comes with balancing the digital experience of the business with securing and protecting sensitive data. This struggle is especially true in regulated industries where IBM “clients,” such as governments, education systems, and financial businesses, all must meet specific regulatory requirements. Regulations make it difficult for many of these companies to move all data assets to the cloud and is one of the reasons why we only see 20% of workloads in the cloud. The other 80% of workloads are mission-critical workloads that are far more difficult to move. That 80% is IBM’s target workload for transitioning businesses into the cloud experience. IBM gets the needs of regulated business more than most technology providers.

IBM’s solution and focus for mission-critical workloads to the cloud is its Hybrid Cloud Platform. While it took a few years for the industry to coalesce, Hybrid Cloud is a dominant driving force in the cloud industry and IBM sees the massive opportunity for Hybrid Cloud to capture these workloads. To get a taste as to why Hybrid Cloud is the ideal solution to capture these workloads, we have to look into the foundation of IBM’s Hybrid Cloud, Red Hat. Red Hat has some advantages as a Cloud market share leader, and alongside Containers and Kubernetes is the architectural foundation for the Hybrid Cloud Platform, with OpenShift being the mechanism to capture it all. IBM’s family of Cloud Paks allows its middleware to run in a cloud-native environment so that software can be deployed anywhere OpenShift runs. This is big in that it allows strategic partnerships, like with Adobe, to happen.

Opportunities on both sides

IBM’s Hybrid Cloud platform gives opportunities for partners like Adobe to bring in its solutions for its clients, and, on a practicality standpoint, eliminating some of the difficulties with moving mission-critical workloads to the cloud. IBM and Adobe’s partnership opens up the move to hybrid cloud, specifically in the highly regulated financial service space. This is a space that is a part of that 80% of mission-critical workloads and one that I think is an intelligent place to start. 

Adobe and IBM already have a great relationship going back to years of collaboration. The play that both companies have in this partnership comes from Adobe’s flagship digital experience, coupled with IBM’s hybrid cloud. Adobe’s Experience Manager (AEM) should accelerate the adoption of IBM clients into the hybrid cloud, pervasively driving the hybrid cloud toward other markets apart from the financial service space.

Adobe Experience Manager manages and delivers connected digital experiences across all channels. 

I think AEM has a lot to offer for IBM’s hybrid cloud platform. AEM manages and delivers connected digital experiences across all channels of customer bases. Think about the boatload of sites, assets, forms, and screens that AEM delivers and manages across its wide customer base, all of which bring a sheer number of regulated workloads to IBM’s hybrid cloud. Likewise, it is taking Adobe’s digital experience to a scalable and flexible hybrid cloud experience, and in other words making both sides of the partnership accelerate in their respected markets. And, as IBM mentioned in its Q2 earnings report, Adobe is not the only partner fueling its Hybrid Cloud Platform. It mentioned partnerships with Salesforce, SAP, Box, and Slack. IBM’s dip into the financial service space is only the shallow end of the pool for IBM as it plans to make its hybrid cloud platform more widely available to reach more mission-critical workloads.

Wrapping up

Many strategic relationships end with the press release. I think this one is different. I think with these partnerships, IBM is giving us a glimpse into what it looks like to digitally transform businesses with mission-critical workloads, specifically those with highly regulated workloads.

When I think about Adobe being a key partner in IBM’s hybrid cloud platform, I think about all the PDF forms that are signed and all the services that Adobe provides for regulated businesses. I believe if IBM continues to strategically run from the Edge of the Cloud to specific application workflows, it can create a compelling platform for businesses to bring highly regulated workloads to the cloud. 

IBM and Adobe’s partnership is not one to look past. In the coming years, I believe we will see many more partnerships between IBM and transformative companies to disrupt the digital cloud experience. We are seeing a good example of the direction of where I believe IBM CEO Arvind Krishna wants to take the company.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.