Big Changes in Store for IBM ISS VARs

By Sara Driscoll  |  Print this article Print


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Exclusive: Big Blue is looking to blend Internet Security Systems VARs into its own channel, which could result in far-reaching changes.

Widespread changes will hit IBM Internet Security Systems VARs as Big Blue looks to roll the solution providers gained through its acquisition of the security vendor into its own incumbent channel program.

Speaking exclusively to Channel Insider, Clifford Leary, director of worldwide channel sales for IBM ISS, said the vendor has ambitious plans for the merger of the two channels.  "We want to ensure two things," he said.  "First, to deliver more resources to ISS partners. More resources means more support and more opportunities. And second, we want to provide IBM solution providers with the resources to get them investing and active on the ISS solutions."

The first change that will enable the two channels to work more closely is the move of the ISS channel sales teams into the IBM business partner organization. "Previously they were not part of the larger IBM partner community," Leary said. Although this does mean some ISS VAR account managers could change, he said this will be kept to a minimum. "Moving ISS partners into the IBM channel is difficult, but we cannot afford to upset our channel," he added.

The main change for ISS partners will be a more formalized channel structure, Leary said. "A lot of the ISS channel program was done on a more ad hoc basis, and this will become more formalized under the new structure, and there will be more involvement from the distributors," he said. He added that this should lead to more predictability for ISS partners.   

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Steve Gibbs, North East channel sales leader at IBM ISS, who runs the ISS channel in Europe, said that most VARs have already transitioned to IBM contracts and the vendor is now working with the distributors to "catch any who fell through the cracks. We are trying to work with those ISS partners who for one reason or another did not transition, and we’ll work with the distributors to call out to those partners and try to get them on board," Gibbs said.

David Ellis, director of e-security, professional services and training at European distributor ComputerLinks, said he has already started to see changes in the ISS channel. "ISS is deciding who can and who can’t sell its products," he said. "Only those resellers who have technical training and have invested are now able to sell the products." Previously, he said, any VAR could sell ISS and there was little or no criteria for partners. 

Ellis welcomed this move. "This means that those partners who have invested in training and skills will have a differentiator, and it means end users will be better served by fully trained resellers." Ellis said ComputerLinks is taking an active part in helping to train and educate the ISS and IBM VARs.

Alec Black, strategy director at VAR Affinity, said security now affects every part of a deal and training is a key aspect that IBM needs to get right. "It’s not just training on a set of products; it’s the whole security stance," he said. 

Sara Driscoll began her journalism career at 16 years old on her local newspaper, The Watford Observer. Working part time, she covered a range of beats. Leaving to complete her Journalism Degree at Bournemouth University, UK, Sara then went on to graduate and work for Emap. She began as a reporter on APR, Emap's construction title, being promoted to senior reporter with a year.Sara then joined VNU Business Publications as Deputy News Editor on CRN, the weekly trade title for channel players. She covered industry/business news from vendors, distributors and resellers, product announcements, partner announcements as well as market and trend analysis, research and in depth articles to predict up and coming trends in the sector. She was promoted within a year to News Editor, a year later to Deputy Editor and the following year became Editor. Sara remained editor of CRN for three years, launching the magazine on new platforms including CRN TV and eBooks, as well as several magazine and web site redesigns. She was called on for expert industry comment from various publications including appearing on live BBC news programs. Sara joined Ziff Davis Enterprise as Editor of eWeek Channel Insider. She runs the title in all formats – online up to the minute news, newsletters, emails alerts and events. She also manages the brand of Channel Insider in all formats - events, shows, awards, panel debates and roundtables.Sara can be reached at:sara.driscoll@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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