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LAS VEGAS: The good news is that IBM’s 50,000-plus North American software partners are doing better than most of their peers, and the future looks even brighter. The bad news is that Big Blue is pretty happy with its coverage, and while it plans to move more of its open-distribution partners — primarily LotusNotes and Lombardi — over to the ranks of its 5,000 authorized partners, it’s not looking to significantly expand its numbers, Sandy Carter, vice president, IBM Software Group Channels, tells Channel Insider.

Carter, along with more than 900 business partners, is here for IBM’s biggest-ever SOA (solutions-oriented architecture) and BPM (business process management) conference, Impact. In addition to announcing the acquisition of Cast Iron Systems, the company announced more than 30 products and a number of channel initiatives, including providing authorized partners with direct access to IBM’s technical and industry leaders.

IBM estimates the SOA and BPM market is worth an estimated $60 billion annually, and the channel is integral to the IBM’s sales strategies to capture that market.
Last year partners accounted for 25 percent of WebSphere revenues, and for the first quarter of 2010, IBM reported its BPM and integration software portfolio grew by more than 20 percent. WebSphere grew 13 percent, while its integration software grew by more than 20 percent. ILOG, business rules management, grew by more than 30 percent.  

Carter briefed partners on IBM’s evolution to an industry focus, including the move to industry authorizations in 2011, and also discussed new incentives like Software Value Incentive (SVI) Competitive Incentive that doubles the rewards for those ripping and replacing Oracle.

Top partners will now get direct access to IBM’s technology and industry gurus globally (IBM Technical and Industry Advocates). As part of the advocate initiative will line up the 5,000 authorized partners with IBM brand executives, industry experts, senior technical staff members, master inventors and other technical leaders. Carter says this initiative will help partners with industry-specific software architecture, performance, migrations, upgrades and configurations.

Plus IBM announced new social networking communities on PartnerWorld; industry framework validations for the banking industry; and incentives for selling to government.