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VARs and ISVs looking to enter or expand their presence in the government solutions marketplace now have an industry-specific IBM platform for building and deploying an array of public sector applications. On Oct. 30, Big Blue released its Government Industry Framework, a combination of software and services targeting the federal, state and local space.

The framework aims to provide a standards-based industry platform for IBM customers and partners for building and deploying public sector applications for tax and revenue planning, homeland security and safety, health and human services, transportation and urban planning and management. Applications built on the framework will incorporate and leverage IBM’s complete line of software, server and storage products, the company said.IBM believes the new framework will provide additional channel opportunities for new and existing partners. Big Blue’s public sector practice is hoping to deepen and expand relationships with what it considers “non-traditional partners.” Lonne Jaffe, director of public sector solutions in IBM Software Group, pointed to industrial-style consulting companies like Siemens as well as construction companies as examples of new partner targets.

“As these partners figure out what infrastructure to adopt to go after the transportation industry, they will be able to pick up the framework,” said Jaffe. “The relationships already exist, but we are hoping it will deepen those relationships and create new partnerships because we have something quite compelling to offer them.”

IBM application partner and public services independent software vendor Curam Software also sees the framework as opening up new integrator and VAR channel opportunities within the public sector. Curam’s president Ernie Connon believes the public sector industry is moving toward platforms and packaged applications, which, he said, is a significant departure from the government sector’s traditional custom-built solutions. VARs utilizing the IBM framework and packaged applications from companies like Curam can take advantage of an industry where they were traditionally frozen-out because, now, coding efforts, deployment costs and risk are significantly reduced.

“Years ago, only the large systems integrators could bid on the projects,” said Connon. “IBM’s announcement takes out-of-the-box capability and integrates into a larger architecture, making it readily accessible to the channel."

IBM’s interest in the federal market is hardly new, and IBM is upping the game in its quest for public sector dominance with the release of the framework. Jaffe admits the framework’s release is designed to take advantage of the federal stimulus package, but also contends that IBM is providing technology and expertise for projects that “benefit society.”

Last year, Chairman and CEO Samuel Palmisano advised President Obama’s transition team on the potential impact of IT investment, job creation and smart grid technology.  Several already deployed applications across the globe are focused on green initiatives. Singapore and the State of California are using the technology to identify and predict traffic patterns to reduce congestion and pollution. Other applications include smart urban planning applications that help streamline and balance demand for public services like waste management and utilities.