IBM Expects Thousands of Partners to Train, Certify on New PureSystems Platform in 2012

By D.H. Kass

May 3, 2012

IBM Corp. expects to train and certify “thousands” of channel partners this year on its new PureSystems integrated platform, aided by distributors who will provide education and enablement materials to smaller resellers interested in attaining the higher skill levels required to sell the systems, according to a top company executive.

The vendor, which recently debuted two PureSystems models backed by a pilot group of some 500 channel partners trained on the platform, expects that by the end of this year solution providers prepped to sell the systems will increase multi-fold, “into the thousands,” said Ed Abrams, IBM midmarket business marketing vice president.

“We see PureSystems as a game-changer for channel partners to elevate their value-add to customers and provide higher level services,” he said.

While Abrams stopped short of saying that channel partners readied to sell IBM’s PureSystems will comprise an elite class of solution provider, he did acknowledge that training and certification on the platform will serve as a differentiator among channel partners.

“For any partner, either traditional reseller, system integrator or managed service provider, PureSystems will provide the means to go higher up the stack to provide services, integration and value to their customers versus merely providing a box,” he said.

IBM’s 500 early-adopter PureSystems channel players operate both in mature and growth markets and mirror the vendor’s overall geographic and partner-type splits with a “heavy cluster” of partners in the China market,” Abrams said.

“Given the high value of integration, we wanted to ensure all aspects of the marketplace are covered to give us early feedback,” he said.

IBM also has hammered out agreements with its distributors to expand PureSystems’ reach in both the U.S. and foreign markets.

“Distributors will play a critical role in the U.S. and abroad as a conduit by which we can scale out PureSystems to the marketplace,” Abrams said.

He declined to name specific distributors with which IBM has struck agreements for PureSystems but said that deals were in place with the vendor’s existing distribution partners and will be announced in the coming months. The agreements encompass educating two-tier channel partners and providing enablement materials for the PureSystems machines, Abrams said.

IBM also intends to unveil a series of certifications around PureSystems in the next several months, he said. Currently, channel partners can access technical support and training at IBM’s 30 Innovation Centers worldwide, and will soon be offered workshops on selling, deploying, setting up and testing applications on PureSystems, the company said.

“We see this as pervasive in our partner community but like any vendor’s channel partners, those that invest more will get more out of it,” he said.

Abrams said that the vendor has added financial inducements and incentives to drive stronger sales of PureSystems out of the gate, although he declined to supply details.

“We’re providing all of the things you would expect to excite and enable the marketplace to drive a new product,” he said.

PureSystems sports an integrated system design, built-in solutions software, automated management capabilities and is cloud-ready out of the box. The platform’s key element is, perhaps, what IBM calls Patterns of Expertise, or embedded technology and industry expertise—some of which is supplied by IBM’s Industry Frameworks with the remainder from 125 ISV applications--intended to automatically handle foundational, time-consuming tasks, such as configurations, upgrades and application requirements.

In contending that cost inefficiency and lack of innovation unduly beset business computing, IBM believes that PureSystems not only will provide an alternative to conventional enterprise IT, but also offer channel partners a vehicle with which to supply truly integrated systems—and, accordingly, higher value--to customers.

The PureSystems platform enables channel partners to “engage in conversations that they’ve been unable to have before with customers to do things that they’ve always had on their wish list but lacked the time or money to deploy in the past,” Abrams said.

Charles King, Pund-IT Inc. principal analyst, said that IBM’s PureSystems “offer a literal middle way that fully supports customer choice and also provides highly innovative and effective help for those customers who want or need it,” said King.

IBM said that this quarter it will ship the first two PureSystems models, both of which are priced starting at $100,000. The platform is targeted at large enterprises and midmarket businesses with no current plans to scale it down to make it more suitable for smaller organizations, Abrams said.