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IBM: Partner Recruitment Drive Nets 2,500 New VARs

IBM said 2,500 new VARs have signed on as Global Business Partners so far this year, putting the IT giant halfway toward its goal of adding 5,000 new partners in 2006.

Craig Zarley

August 17, 2006

2 Min Read

IBM said it has added about 2,500 new Global Business Partners since the beginning of the year, with nearly 40 percent of the solution providers coming from North America.

The new VAR recruits are part of Express Track, a plan that IBM launched earlier this year to add 5,000 new partners worldwide.

"The target of this focus was partners that weren't doing business with us," Donn Atkins, general manager of IBM Global Business Partners, said at the XChange '06 conference in St. Louis, held by CRN publisher CMP Media. "We initially said we were going to target 5,000 partners, but the reality is, after we've gotten into it, we think there is an opportunity for even more than that."

And as IBM adds partners, it's trying to avoid increasing competition for its current partners, Atkins noted. So the IT giant is targeting new geographies and new niches, primarily in the small- and midsize-business market, he said.

To help attract new partners, IBM is highlighting its Express Seller product portfolio, including Intel- and Advanced Micro Devices-based System x and BladeCenter server lines and entry-level storage. The Express Seller products are popular, standard SKUs that come with a single, competitive price.

IBM has dedicated 300 people worldwide to "do nothing but support this new partner base," Atkins said.

Anita Messerschmidt, president of EmbarkIT, a year-old solution provider in West Des Moines, Iowa, said support from her IBM rep was key to getting her IBM business off the ground. The startup, an IBM Business Partner, had revenue of $2.3 million in its first year, she said.

"We just won the State of Iowa Department of Transportation contract with IBM servers, storage and IntelliStations," Messerschmidt said.

IBM is spending about $100 million on demand generation, staff and other support for the new partnering initiative, according to Atkins. He said IBM hasn't counted new partner recruits as IBM Business Partners until they make a "meaningful contribution" in sales. He declined to specify the revenue bar but said it was in the "$10,000 range."

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