By adding Tech Data and Ingram Micro as key distributors able to support the sales of IBM Power Systems to their own networks of resellers, IBM has made a huge positive move in favor of selling IBM Power Systems to new customers. Seriously. This is a very big deal.
In my mind, there's one major reason and then a whole lot of supporting reasons. So let's start with the big one: Marketing.
In one fell swoop, IBM has suddenly exposed a whole new set of technology influencers to the IBM Power Systems world. Who are these influencers?
Tech Data, which is a Fortune 500 company that flirts with Fortune 100 status, brings IBM Power Systems servers to its channel of more than 14,000 data center partners in the United States through its Advanced Infrastructure Solutions (AIS) Division.
Ingram Micro is a Fortune 100 company that does about $15 billion in business in North America alone.
Both of these distributors serve a broad swath of America's small and midrange businesses that haven't necessarily been exposed to IBM Power Systems, and through their own partner channels, they will bring an unprecedented new level of Power Systems reach into organizations that need the efficiency, flexibility, security, and scalability of IBM Power Systems solutions. Instead of simply selling System x -- and then realizing their customers need Power somewhere along the relationship -- all of these new partners will be able to keep the conversation and sales plan moving smoothly. Along the same line, as needs for business analytics continue to gobble up storage and require enterprise-class storage solutions, these resellers can enter IBM land more deeply than ever before. Once a customer finds one high-quality IBM solution, there's a decent chance they'll find another sometime down the road.
Follow the Money
In addition to just creating new marketing awareness of IBM Power Systems -- because Tech Data and Ingram Micro will communicate with their partners about IBM's offerings and key selling points -- IBM has enabled a new revenue incentive. All of these new U.S. partners can now make money with Power Systems all the while better enabling them to control (and serve) their customers. That's a huge win for everyone.
Of course, not all of these resellers will want to expand their reach with Power. Some will, though, and some will want to learn. Some will recognize how Power can change their relationships with their customers and want to be part of it.
And some readers might still be wondering, particularly those who are technically savvy, why adding two more distributors in the U.S. is a big deal. After all, can't you go online at IBM.com and buy quite a few low-end IBM Power Systems servers without too much trouble? Sure, it's possible, but buying a business system that can morph into a full-fledged analytics powerhouse with an integrated storage system is a far cry from buying a PC from Amazon.com. I had a chance to talk to Bill Donohue, vice president of North America Business Partners and Mid-market Sales for IBM, and he described the core mission for those of us who don't live and breathe inside the IBM Business Partner community:
"The distributor plays a vital role, particularly around the enablement of the reseller network, and they have an ability to expand reach that IBM just can't do alone," Donohue explains. "They provide outstanding support from an enablement perspective to the reseller firms. They also compliment some of the IBM offerings around technical support, and what we're hoping they do -- because they have a great value proposition around this -- is recruit new business partners to sell these products . . . so it's primarily enablement, tech support, and recruitment."
What's not to like about that?