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A little more than a year after IBM started its Public Sector Edge program, the company is offering a new set of initiatives, networking opportunities and marketing resources for its partners, in an effort to reach vertical, public sector markets.

The new benefits are a way for ISVs, VARs, consultants and system integrators to take advantage of the company’s push into markets such as government, health care and education.

IBM officially announced the new incentive package on Aug. 22.

In July 2005, IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., started the Public Sector Edge as part of its PWIN (PartnerWorld Industry Network), a $1 billion initiative that gave partners IBM support in every part of the business cycle, including sales leads, deal closings and technical assistance in building a solution.

In the first 12 months of the Public Sector Edge program, IBM has attracted about 2,000 new partners, taking a bigger piece of what it estimates is a $230 billion worldwide marketplace, said Alex Gogh, vice president of marketing for the global public sector.

“What we have now is a very strong ecosystem of partners that are dedicated to that $230 billion market,” Gogh said.

Click here to read more about the start of IBM’s public sector partner program.

In addition to financial incentives, marketing and lead generation, the expanded program includes several other opportunities for partners to maximize vertical markets.

One program, IBM Alumni Business Partner Connections Program, helps connect current business partners with the company’s alumni to exchange technical, sales and marketing resources.

IBM is also offering what it calls “Speed Dating” events that are designed to match up ISVs, VARs and system integrators and allow them to exchange lead information and form partnerships.

Adam Bosnian, vice president of product strategy and sales at Cyber-Ark, a Boston-based ISV that mainly works with private financial institutions, said the company has been using the Public Sector Edge program since the beginning.

Through the program, Bosnian said, Cyber-Ark has been able to gain leverage in public sector markets, especially the federal government, where the company did not previously have a presence.

The program has also given the company a greater online presence and has helped it close deals, Bosnian said.

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“This has allowed Cyber-Ark to leverage into an area of focus that we haven’t been able to involve ourselves in before,” Bosnian said. “That’s our motivation and IBM has given us the encouragement to add to our original engagement.”

Gogh said told The Channel Insider that in the following months he would like to see the Public Sector Edge program expand in three areas.

First, Gogh wants to start receiving more feedback from partners about the program. Secondly, he also wants to start focusing on emerging public sector markets in countries like China and India.

The other area of improvement, Gogh said, would be the addition of what he called solutions for “micromarkets.” These markets are specific areas within local, state and federal government agencies, such as court administration.