VARs speak out on IBM’s SMB strategy

NEW ORLEANS — They flew south for the sun and warmth and found little of it, but thousands of IBM Corp. resellers came away from their annual PartnerWorld convention in chilly Louisiana satisfied with its strategy for attracting business from small and medium-sized firms.

“”They’re going about

it the right way,”” said Paul Bruce, vice-president of sales at Maxim Solutions Inc. of Richmond Hill, Ont. said of the new SMB Partner Advantage program for the channel. The $500 million (US) program of tools, training and marketing was announced last month, but more details on how partners can use IBM resources and take advantage of discounts and incentives were released here.

Briefly, partners will get discounts or back-end fees for selling applications and services to small or mid-sized customers with IBM hardware and software. On the hardware side, discounts and rebates could run from 20 to 60 per cent above existing bonuses, depending on the model. Under the newly-announced software Value Advantage Plus program, partners who show they have added IBM-related value to their applications and services will receive a larger product discount.

Distributors will be rewarded for supporting partners who add services and for recruiting resellers to IBM to target the SMB market.

These software-related incentives start in May.

IBM officials refused to detail those benefits to reporters for competitive reasons, but partners who were briefed — and even those who weren’t — are confident the program will work.

“”When you get money in your pocket it’s a good way to drive business,”” said Denis Tanguay, eastern Canadian account manager for IBM products at SupportNet, a distributor of mid-range hardware and software.

Yves Paquette, president of Montreal-based Novipro Inc., which specializes in servers and storage, is pleased with IBM’s new Express line of software — new versions of which were announced this week here. The software is based on the full versions of IBM’s major applications, such as the WebSphere application server, but specially designed for easier installation by companies with small information technology departments. IBM also wants application developers and independent software vendors to port their products to Express-based software.

“”It shows they really understand what’s needed to get this market,”” he said.

Bill Wilkinson, vice-president of The Ram Group, an IBM Premier partner based in Vaughan, Ont. which also partners with Hewlett-Packard, Cisco and Toshiba on desktop and networking hardware, agrees IBM’s campaign to get the attention of SMBs beats others his firm deals with.

“”HP is talking about SMB, but I don’t see the same set of tools being made available (to resellers),”” he said in an interview.

Also impressed was Steve McHale, vice-president of research and software partnering alliances for IDC. IBM’s plans for the small-mid market is clear, he said, but the r

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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