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LAS VEGAS:  In the city that excels at hosting large groups of people — and relatively painlessly lightening their wallets along the way — this week’s IBM Pulse 2010 services management event is already a dimming memory as 5,000 attendees, including 1,000 partners, have gone their separate ways.

But for at least some, like Thales’ Richard Moulds and Henry Cheli, Gemalto’s Russ Baldermann and Tom Flynn, or IBM’s Mary Bunzel, Doug Brown and Clod Barrera, now the heavy lifting begins.

Both Thales and Gemalto were part of IBM’s flurry of partner announcements targeted at the services management market that is worth $50 billion just for the software component. Thales announced it is integrating IBM’s Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager into Thales Encryption Manager for Storage (TEMS 2.0) while Gemalto revealed that its Protiva smart card solution is now certified for use with IBM Tivoli Access Manager for e-business and IBM Tivoli Access Manager for Enterprise Single Sign-On.

A solution that consolidates and automates the management of encryption keys for heterogeneous storage environments, Thales’ TEMS 2.0 is delivered as a hardened tamper-resistant security appliance. Increasingly the rule that if you store data you must encrypt it, everybody is encrypting, says Cheli, VP of Sales, Americas, Thales e-Security, Inc. "Our device puts the key in a more secure environment."

Moulds, vice president of product strategy at Thales, calls encryption an antidote for poor security. "Encryption at the end of the day is the get-out-of-jail card," he said. But the biggest issue is around control, he added, so the primary reason for buying a key manager is "don’t mess things up."

Up until two years ago, encryption was very complex and very few customers were prepared to take the pain, which meant very few channel opportunities, he said. Now that encryption has become a given, and less complex, there is a growing need for channel partners. "It’s now one other thing that needs to be managed."

Thales has always been 100 percent channel for its federal government business, but now that encryption is going commercial, it has put in place a complete channel model, says Cheli. "We have a channel group that can create (partner) security practices, create demand, and help them be proficient putting our product in their solution."

Identity management has been gaining in popularity, says Gemato’s Flynn, North American Director Enterprise Security Marketing, and IBM has been working with the company recently to leverage its encryption expertise. He says the company’s value proposition is its flexibility, offering a wide range of secure personal devices, including subscriber identification modules (SIM), Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) in mobile phones, smart banking cards, smart card access badges, electronic passports, and USB tokens for online identity protection.

There’s good money to be made selling security, adds Baltermann, Gemalto’s director of channels, identity & access management-North America. It starts with the margins, up to 22 percent, but where the real money comes in is in services, he says. "We provide them with the foundation for services."

He sees big growth opportunities for the channel in selling to state and local governments that are looking to better secure their environments. Health care is another growing market that channel partners can address.

Bunzel, Worldwide Industry Leader for Manufacturing at IBM Tivoli Software, says the opportunity for channel partners to leverage IBM’s framework for asset management is huge. "Not all assets are created equal," so channel partners can use their industry expertise to help their customers maximize their control and return on investment. That’s the value proposition, she says, full visibility into assets, from IT to HVAC, medical equipment to vehicle fleets.

Smart manufacturers have been jumping on asset management, says Bunzel. Rolls Royce has been using it for five years on its jet engines, and service revenues have increased fivefold. "It’s a very disruptive technology."

IBM wants to use the channel to add "strength" and relationships it doesn’t have. And with new capabilities and lower costs, asset management is no longer just for larger organizations, so the channel becomes even more critical, says Bunzel. Last year was Maximo’s best ever, and now that the economy is improving, she expects even more growth this year.

"We can be smart about how we use the assets of the planet more efficiently."

This week’s Pulse had the biggest partner turnout ever, says Doug Brown, vice president of marketing at IBM Tivoli Software, and the opportunities for them are equally big. By 2013 there will be a $50 billion market just for service management software. "We can’t do that ourselves." So IBM is looking for partners like Ricoh that want to participate in overall service management, and partners that deliver the solution to the end user.

Finally, IBM’s Barrera, CTO and vice president of storage, says service management is playing a growing role in the storage segment as complexity and the amount of data increase while budgets and resources fall behind. There are numerous examples, including the management of data copies for backups and disaster recovery across multiple kinds of storage.

"Copy management is one of the complexities of modern storage deployment that have to be accommodated through automation. It’s too complicated for humans to do themselves."

He notes two trends emerging in the storage channel: the ‘appliance-ization of infrastructure by vendors like IBM, building fully integrated fit-for-purpose systems for applications like data warehousing; and commodization of the piece parts of which the systems are built.

"They (channel partners) are chomping at the bit to become more involved. They are more directly visible to customers as the people who will integrate the aggregated systems."

Business partners understand this well and are anxious to see this happen as it moves them up the value chain, says Barrera. The value moves from just installing a solution to understanding everything required to determine the right solution for the customer, he says. "This is not a one-size-fits-all situation."

This evolution has driven changes in the kinds of IBM partners, he says. "So we are changing our focus in storage from a simple we-deliver-the-box-and-you-figure-out-to-what-it’s-for, to a solutions focus. Business partners have become a big part of that discussion on how solutions are going to be integrated, what the fully formed system is going to look like, what middleware will drive it. That kind of cross-vendor discipline is one of the ways we’re looking to exploit the business partners."