IBM will offer incentives for partners to resell e-business hosting services to help its hardware resellers to expand beyond the selling of systems.
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"Over the past year or so we've been working on a strategy to enable traditional hardware resellers to sell this new range of hosted solutions," said Dev Mukherjee, vice president of marketing and strategy for e-business on demand at IBM's Global Services unit.
So far, IBM has sold the bulk of its e-business hosting services through its internal sales force, but both IBM and its partners are interested in increasing the reseller participation, he said.
"Partners have been saying they would like to get into this because, like IBM, they see this is the direction the market is going," he said. Reselling these services gives the partners a chance to append their own complementary services to the IBM offerings.
Mukherjee declined to say what percentage of sales revenue IBM expected its channel partners to generate eventually, compared with IBM's internal sales staff.
"What I can say is that we have seen a huge amount of interest from resellers, and we believe this package will make it easy for them to resell these services," he said.
Asked to give a ballpark figure of how many partners IBM expects will be interested in and able to resell these services, Mukherjee said the programme has been designed to appeal "to as broad a range of hardware resellers as possible".
IBM will provide training and incentives to its partners interested in reselling e-business hosting services, such as security, computing capacity on demand and application services. Incentives include an increase in commissions and signing bonuses.
IBM is particularly interested in seeing its partners reselling into the small-and-medium sized business market, which IBM broadly defines as companies with up to 1,000 employees, Mukherjee said.
To this end, IBM is rolling out a new managed hosting services offering tailored for SMEs. Called "Managed Hosting, Infrastructure Solutions With Server Management, Entry", the programme is modelled on those offered to large companies, including shared and virtualised network infrastructure, and optional multilayer firewall and load balancing features, but with a scope and price that are tailored for SMEs.
IBM is also launching two new hosting services for SMEs based on its iSeries server platform.
Despite the focus on the SME market, the sales incentives apply to all types of partner sales, including those made to large companies. IBM will launch this first in the US, and plans to extend it to Europe and Asia-Pacific later on at a yet unspecified date.
The availability of the different offerings for partner resellers varies, but all will be available between now and the end of the second quarter.
Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service