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One of the problems that solution providers have is that much of their intellectual property is inside the heads of their employees. When those employees leave, they tend to take a fair amount of that expertise with them.

Marie Wieck, IBM general manager for WebSphere, says that one of the more interesting use cases that IBM has seen for its latest PureSystems line of servers is that solution providers are taking advantage of the ability to customize application workload patterns on those systems to capture intellectual property. In addition to being able to recognize patterns of workloads identified by IBM, PureSystems comes with tools that solution providers can use to create custom patterns that the IBM PureSystems can then optimally run.

Originally, it was thought that IT organizations would make the most of that capability. But Wieck says one of the most interesting initial use cases have been solution providers in the channel using that capability to capture and retain intellectual property. That only makes sense when you think about how dependent most solution providers are on their ability to recognize specific application workload requirements in various vertical industries.

Wieck acknowledges that IBM is still coming up to speed on PureSystems in the channel. The PureApplication systems, which come integrated with more IBM software, are sold and marketed by the IBM Software Group, while IBM Systems and Technology Group (STG) markets the more customizable PureFlex systems along with commodity x86 servers, Power Series servers running AIX and IBM mainframes. Wieck says she expects to see more cross-pollination between STG channel partners and the channel programs that IBM is developing for PureApplication partners once it becomes clearer what the use cases are for the various platforms.

At the moment, PureSystems are aimed at customers looking for a more integrated “cloud-in-a-box” approach that scales up, versus industry standard x86 servers that are designed to scale out. As a more integrated platform, pricing for PureSystems starts at $100,000, which means they tend to have more in common with a mainframe than a traditional x86 server.

Over time, Wieck says IBM expects to see its software partners taking advantage of PureSystems to more aggressively resell IBM hardware under what IBM refers to as a “Blue on Blue” initiative. At the same time, she says IBM expects that more hardware resellers will take advantage of PureSystems to start reselling IBM software. The rate at that will happen remains unknown, but as that trend continues to evolve it says that stage for any number of potential mergers and acquisitions between IBM hardware and software partners that have traditional maintained their distance from one another.

Transitions in the channel are always hard to manage. In recent months there has been a significant marketing effort on behalf of both IBM and rivals such as Oracle to push the adoption of pre-integrated systems. The acceptance of such efforts in a marketplace that has largely always separated hardware and software purchases remains to be seen. But Wieck says that as more IT organizations come under economic pressure to reduce the total cost of IT, the longer term trend is definitely heading in the direction of more integrated systems.