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Widespread changes will hit
IBM Internet
Security Systems VARs as Big Blue looks to roll the solution providers gained
through its acquisition of the security vendor into its own incumbent channel

Speaking exclusively to Channel Insider, Clifford Leary, director of
worldwide channel sales for
IBM ISS, said
the vendor has ambitious plans for the merger of the two channels.  “We
want to ensure two things,” he said.  “First, to deliver more resources to
ISS partners. More resources means more support and more opportunities. And
second, we want to provide
IBM solution
providers with the resources to get them investing and active on the ISS

The first change that will enable the two channels to work more closely is the
move of the ISS channel sales teams into the
business partner organization. “Previously they were not part of the larger
partner community,” Leary said. Although this does mean some ISS
account managers could change, he said this will be kept to a minimum. “Moving
ISS partners into the
IBM channel is
difficult, but we cannot afford to upset our channel,” he added.

The main change for ISS partners will be a more formalized channel
structure, Leary said. “A lot of the ISS channel program was done on a more ad
hoc basis, and this will become more formalized under the new structure, and
there will be more involvement from the distributors,” he said. He added that
this should lead to more predictability for ISS partners.   

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Steve Gibbs, North East channel sales leader at
ISS, who runs the ISS channel in
Europe, said that most
VARs have already transitioned to
contracts and the vendor is now working with the distributors to “catch any who
fell through the cracks. We are trying to work with those ISS partners who for
one reason or another did not transition, and we’ll work with the distributors
to call out to those partners and try to get them on board,” Gibbs said.

David Ellis, director of e-security, professional services and training at
European distributor ComputerLinks, said he has already started to see changes
in the ISS channel. “ISS is deciding who can and who can’t sell its products,”
he said. “Only those resellers who have technical training and have invested
are now able to sell the products.” Previously, he said, any
could sell ISS and there was little or no criteria for partners. 

Ellis welcomed this move. “This means that those partners who have invested
in training and skills will have a differentiator, and it means end users will
be better served by fully trained resellers.” Ellis said ComputerLinks is
taking an active part in helping to train and educate the ISS and

Alec Black, strategy director at
Affinity, said security now affects every part of a deal and training is a key
aspect that
IBM needs to get right. “It’s
not just training on a set of products; it’s the whole security stance,” he