Other Changes

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.

Other changes, such as channel program benefits, incentives and rewards for the new IBM ISS channel program, are still be worked out by IBM.  "The blending of the two channel organizations is the first step, and we will look at education and training as part of this," Leary said. "We want to get this right and are in no rush to make decisions."

For IBM’s existing partners, the vendor will concentrate on getting them involved in cross-selling the ISS products, although Leary admitted that simply because IBM now has a security offering, it is unlikely that an IBM VAR will oust existing security vendors from their portfolio.

"We would always like to have as much involvement in our partners as possible, but it is not realistic to expect them to toss their other vendors out the window. But we certainly want mind share within our VARs, and if this comes at the expense of competitors, then so be it," he added.

Ellis said it is unlikely this will happen. "Most VARs these days operate a multivendor portfolio, and since no vendor can offer a real end-to-end security solution, most solution providers will have to carry more than one security vendor anyway."

Black agreed that security is inherently a multivendor solution. "Most platforms require different security policies and protection because this helps to minimize risk," he said. Each VAR will need to make its own decision on whether to carry the ISS portfolio, Black added.

Kevin Drew, a channel consultant, said IBM partners' interest in selling security products will depend on their existing relationships. "If the IBM machine can drive demand for the channel—rather than just educating it to sell more products—then the channel will be even more interested," he said.   

Leary said he hopes IBM partners will work together with ISS partners to create more partner-to-partner collaboration and boost the cross-selling capabilities of its VARs. The smaller, security-focused resellers can partner, for example, with a bigger IBM reseller, he said. The distributors would be instrumental in helping with this.

Cross-selling between VARs and partner-to-partner collaboration could work, Ellis said.  However, he said IBM should be mindful that the sector that ISS operates in is still a specialized area—albeit becoming more mature. "To make this successful, IBM must keep control and not just open the flood gates. It shouldn’t just be open to anyone to sell ISS; otherwise, this could devalue it for the channel already there."  

Drew agreed. "The new VARs need to be introduced sensibly—there is no point in 'overheating' the market with too many partners that cannot make enough money to be viable. New acquisition channel integration will be key for IBM as these new products become fully fledged ones," 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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