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If you had any doubts that IBM no longer wants to play in the low-margin hardware game anymore, even if the sale of its PC business to Lenovo didn’t convince you, look no further than the company’s recent process manager and services bundle releases around its Tivoli software as proof.

Recently IBM unveiled a slew of new services and software aimed at helping enterprise IT departments manage their processes. Everything IBM is rolling out associated with this initiative creates solid value-added service opportunities for global systems integrators, regional integrators and VARs.

The services attached to these new offerings are not low-hanging fruit, mind you, but real avenues for VARs and integrators to prove their worth and customize, add value and establish long-term relationships with enterprise and upper midsize IT departments.

The offering is comprehensive and includes new products, enhancements and customized service opportunities for the channel and ISVs, IBM executives told me. And after hearing about them all, it is hard to argue.

“This is an integrated announcement supported by IBM Tivoli, IBM Global Services, IBM Rational and IBM WebSphere,” said Susan Blocher, director of worldwide marketing for Tivoli, adding that the crux of the offering is geared toward helping IT departments more effectively deliver, design and implement better processes. The offering is based on the company’s and IGS’ customer experience, which has taught them that better IT process management, service and automation are sorely needed. Core to the solutions are “tool mentors” that help implement actions prescribed by the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), an industry guide of best practices, she said.

The new services and software rollout includes IBM Tivoli Unified Process, a navigational tool for customizing and implementing best practices for mapping, modifying and improving IT processes; IBM Tivoli Change and Configuration Management Database, a virtualized database that joins IT information speed across multiple databases; IBM Tivoli Process Managers, prepackaged software to automate IT processes that can be customized to a particular vertical industry; enhancements to existing Tivoli products to support IT service management; and customized services from IGS around the new IT service management solutions.

With the exception of the IGS involvement, these are pure-play solutions for IBM’s channel partners, and the company is embarking on a training and education strategy to quickly get its channel partners up to speed across all fronts. And while some integrators may be irked by the fact that IBM is touting the customized services of IGS, company executives said this 1,000-pound channel gorilla is on the same playing field as its other global and regional integrators.

This may be tough talk, and I know of far too many VARs that have been muscled by IGS in the past. However, it appears to me that there are enough service opportunities around these offerings to go around. Plus, IBM swears it is going the extra mile to make its channel partners feel warm and fuzzy inside.

In fact, before officially unveiling this IT Service Management offering, the company last month hosted more than 100 channel partners at the Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas, to share the strategy with them first, according to Michael Gerentine, director of Worldwide Channel Strategy and Development, Tivoli Software. IBM took these channel partners through each of the solutions, how they fit into the equation and how they can build their service offerings, he said. This goes a long way to building channel trust and shows VARs and integrators that IBM really does value their partnership, a line the company has been toting for some time now.

“We are enhancing our focus and investment with system integrators,” Gerentine said. “We are marking additional investments and adding resources for these guys.” This only makes sense because with the new offerings that IBM Tivoli is putting on the table, the company knows it needs the bread-and-butter service capabilities of the channel more than ever, regardless of the size and scale of IGS.

Elliot Markowitz is Editor-at-Large for Channel Insider. He is also Editorial Director for Ziff Davis eSeminars. He can be reached at