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AI partnerships forming to arm channel with technology options

Industry reaction to growing interest in artificial intelligence is to enter into relationships that ensure the right technology and support is being offered to partners

A high level of interest in artificial intelligence (AI) continues to be a feature of the market, driving responses across the industry to ensure vendors and channel partners have access to the technology.

In the past week, a number of partnerships have been formed across the industry to widen access to AI technology.

Firms are coming to AI from different angles, with some relationships being based on technology and others focused on helping to equip the channel with the right strategy.

The tie-up between Cisco and Lenovo is in the former camp, with the vendors working together to make sure they can provide an integrated networking infrastructure that can deliver AI.

The firms signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a joint design and engineering effort to produce turnkey AI infrastructure solutions that will be made available globally.

“This new partnership is a testament to our commitment to delivering purpose-built, industry-leading solutions, all designed to simplify the path to AI innovation and digital transformation,” said Kirk Skaugen, executive vice-president of Lenovo and president of the Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group.

Jonathan Davidson, executive vice-president and general manager of Cisco Networking, pointed to clear benefits for the firm’s channel partners. “The integrated solutions from Lenovo and Cisco will streamline operational deployment and significantly enhance business outcomes for our shared customers, as well as provide tremendous opportunities for our joint partners,” he said.

In a similar vein, Hitachi and Google Cloud have teamed up to accelerate the availability of AI solutions, with Hitachi forming a new business unit to get the fruits of the partnership into the hands of its enterprise customer base.

“Through this partnership, Hitachi will leverage Google Cloud’s AI capabilities to improve and enhance employee productivity and accelerate innovation,” said Toshiaki Tokunaga, executive vice-president and executive officer at Hitachi. “By augmenting the capabilities of our developers and customer success units with Google Cloud GenAI solutions, such as Vertex AI and Gemini models, Hitachi will be able to better serve the needs of its customers in diverse industries and across complex domains such as energy, mobility, manufacturing and digital services.”

Google Cloud’s motivation for the partnership was to get more customers using generative AI (GenAI) tools to improve their businesses. “To solve complex business challenges with generative AI, enterprises need advanced technology and the technical expertise to successfully deploy it throughout their organisations,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud. “Our partnership with Hitachi will provide customers with the resources needed to optimally build, implement and manage every stage of their generative AI projects.”

Elsewhere, the focus was on providing the channel with practical support to help them navigate some of the questions to which their customers will be expecting they have answers in their position as trusted advisors.

For example, channel player Ignition Technology has formed a partnership with AI security and trust specialist Cranium to help European partners get to grips with the EU Artificial Intelligence Act.

“Europe is leading the way when it comes to ensuring responsible and ethical AI implementation with the introduction of the EU AI Act. This presents new challenges for organisations deploying AI in terms of governance and compliance,” said Felix Knoll, COO/CRO and co-founder at Cranium.

“However, it also presents new opportunities to innovate and create value. We needed a trusted European partner to leverage these opportunities, one with specialist security expertise, extensive partner reach and with proven go-to-market success,” he added.

Sean Remnant, chief strategy officer at Ignition Technology, said compliance often drove customer actions, and AI was an area where partners would increasingly come against those issues.

“Legislation can sometimes be seen as a blocker to innovation, but we see the new EU AI Act as a catalyst, providing the necessary frameworks and guardrails to ensure AI adoption across organisations is done securely, safely and responsibly,” he said. “Our collaboration with Cranium will enable our partners to address the complex challenges of complying with this new legislation by providing their customers with visibility of their AI landscape, identify risk and deliver peace of mind.”

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