Forget the little engine that could, IBM is the Mack truck that must. The 104-year-old computing giant that makes 76-year-old Hewlett Packard look like a kid is fighting for a place on computing’s third platform. 

It can’t get there alone, and it probably shouldn’t try. Playing well with others is the rule in today’s cloud-filled world and that translates into doing what you do best and partnering with others to do the rest. 

“No individual company can be the single provider in today’s world,” said Kevin Zellmer, director of global business development at social media management provider Hootsuite. 

And while he was suggesting that “Social” was too big a category for any one company to own, add infrastructure to the mix and the comment becomes amplified.

Think Global 

That’s why it makes sense that IBM and Hootsuite will partner to bring Hootsuite’s App Directory from Amazon to IBM’s SoftLayer Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering. 

Hootsuite’s App Directory, for anyone who may not be familiar, is a collection of extensions and applications that marketers can add to their Hootsuite dashboard to create custom views of the social outlets and metrics most important to them.

Why bother with IBM when Amazon, where the Apps Directory now lives, doesn’t appear to be broken? 

To meet the requirements and needs of global enterprises, said Zellmer. “Everything we do now is with a global mindset.” 

Bigger Horizons

And this is where IBM enters the picture, with its 41 data centers, its ability to do business with respect to German, EMEA and other regulations which might require that customer data remain in country, as well as its track record in complying with data privacy rules and so on.

These are things that the management team at Hootsuite didn’t need to think much about when the company was founded in 2008. But now that it has customers in more than 175 countries and is available in 16 languages, IBM’s experience, relationships and brawn are attractive.

“When IBM showed us the performance, flexibility and granular controls we liked what we saw,” said Zellmer.

And IBM, for its part, values the Hootsuite relationship for its own reasons. “It’s part of our strategy to be more innovative by partnering with entrepreneurial firms,” said Sandy Carter, general manager for IBM's ecosystems and social evangelism.

Never mind the fact that Hootsuite may bring some small and mid-sized customers to IBM and IBM may bring some larger enterprises to Hootsuite.

An Educational Relationship

But the partnership doesn’t end there. IBM will also make Hootsuite’s Higher Education program available via its Academic Initiative for Cloud which provides 20,000 students in 36 countries access to courses. Hootsuite, for its part, will provide professors and their students with three months of free access to Hootsuite’s leading social media education resources and courseware on the platform. 

IBM is on a roll bringing its cloud to vendors who are redefining the social, mobile, data rich landscape. It’s a great way to demonstrate power and value to a newer customer base.

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