A Montreal systems integrator says IBM Corp.’s simpler partners program should be a big benefit to his business.

“”I think it’s going to be great,”” Ross Salvo, president of SIA Service Information Access Inc. of Montreal, said after details of the program were released this week.


intent to cut partner categories from the current four tracks to make it easier for VARs to attain Premier level was announced at IBM’s annual PartnerWorld conference in March. However, details of what criteria resellers had to meet in order to move from the lowest rung to the highest were only just unveiled.

Under the present system – which will last until September for most – resellers were divided into four categories: software, services, personal computing and developers. Each category had three levels: Member, Advanced and Premier. It meant a reseller could be an Advanced software seller and a Premier services partner.

“”When we go to a customer and say we’re Premier in one part and not in another, it’s awkward,”” said Salvo.

So IBM will do away with the categories (or tracks) but keep the criteria it uses for advancing partners through each level – skills (measured by approved courses taken by employees), revenue (measured by sales of IBM products) and customer satisfaction (measured by independent survey organizations approved by IBM).

The result will be a VAR can say, for example, it is an Advanced partner across the entire line of IBM products and services.

The key was setting up a points system that would be fair across product lines. So, for example, 25 points are needed to achieve Premier status.

To get a glimpse of what would be needed to get that number, under an example provided by IBM a mythical customer would get 28 points for selling over US$1 million in server and storage (excluding xSeries); $230,000 in software; $175,000 in IBM services; $300,000 in PC, xSeries, printer and retail store solutions; having high skill sets and for having a high customer satisfaction.

According to Milvi Ester, IBM Canada’s manager of partner channels, the points system is skewed towards selling to small and medium businesses, as well as to encourage more VARs to become Premier partners.

In addition IBM is taking over the calculation of the points, which will be available to partners on a dashboard at a Web site for them so they can quickly see where they stand. No longer will partners have to apply for a designation.



“”This expands the benefits a partner has access to because it isn’t streamed based on the type of track a partner is in,”” said Ester.

Resellers should see an advantage in the elimination of time and resources needed to apply for certifications, she said.

“”The proof”” of the new program’s benefits, she added, “”will be in the execution.””

The new program rolls out in the third quarter first for consultants, integrators and hardware and software resellers, and for independent software vendors in the fourth quarter.

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