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LAS VEGAS—At its PartnerWorld event here in Las Vegas this week, IBM is drilling home the message that partners are crucial to its success—primarily as it works to build channels into the small and midsized business sector—and Big Blue is putting its money where its mouth is.

IBM pledged on Monday to spend an additional $100 million in creating demand awareness around its various partner programs, and to investing even more money in helping its partners be profitable. That includes deploying 1,000 IBM sales professionals to help its partners close more deals, and creating of a number of new initiatives.

Behind the message is IBM’s basic intent: to sell more of its software (and hardware) through its partner affiliations.

“The way clients buy middleware is when they buy an application,” Marc Lautenbach, general manager of IBM’s Global Small and Medium Business, said in a news conference. “We are not in the applications business. That is a different strategy. Our strategy is clear.”

To this end, IBM announced a new set of initiatives designed to enable partners to better sell into the SMB sector. For example, its Built on IBM Express Portfolio, announced Monday, is designed to help ISVs develop and market IBM’s Express Portfolio—some 70 prepackaged offerings geared for SMBs.

Click here to read about IBM giving its ISV partners a boost at PartnerWorld.

As part of the Built on Express program, partners are provided with development, sales and marketing tools to help them better develop their software around the Express offering, and then to get the word out on the capabilities. To help, IBM is allowing the Express partners to use the IBM emblem—recognizable to just about any size company.

Separately, IBM unveiled a new program to help ISVs, partners and system integrators build what it refers to as a Data Retention Center of Competence. Essentially, the Data Retention Centers will enable partners to map their software to IBM’s Risk and Compliance Framework, and in turn will act as a proving ground to help their customers build out systems that combat data-retention challenges, officials said.

IBM has been working to recruit business partners in key industries. Click here to read more.

IBM is working in other ways to help partners as well. Through its registration process at this year’s PartnerWorld event, for example, the company is building out a database that partners can use to profile partner capabilities to find potential synergies—and new partnerships.

At the same time, the company is working internally and with partners to establish “teaming agreements” that identify and reveal potential partner alliances.

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