IBM is developing packages of security, system continuity, and IT maintenance and support services that solution providers can deliver as managed services to their small and midsize customers. Thursday it debuted three of those security service packages, with more to follow later this year.
With the packaged services, IBM is seeking a way to "productize" its in-house expertise and intellectual property and make it available to channel partners, says Kevin Hooper, vice president of IBM's worldwide business partner strategy. The effort is similar to product bundles that IBM has built around its hardware and software products, and will help channel partners overcome the huge barriers they face in expense and expertise when trying to develop such services on their own, he says.
The move also will make it easier for solution provider sales representatives who are used to selling products to also sell services, says Mark Wyllie, senior director of disaster recovery services at Mainline Information Systems, a Tallahassee, Fla.-based reseller of IBM hardware and an IBM Global Services business partner.
"To me, that's the real advantage of going into productized service offerings," he says.
The new service products can easily be bundled with other products and services sold by Mainline and handled through a single customer purchase order, Wyllie says. That's in contrast to fee-based services that are billed back to IBM. He sees the new service products geared more to midsize businesses, while IBM's Express Managed Services are targeted toward smaller customers. He also expects the new products will help Mainline expand the amount of business it does with existing customers rather than attract new customers.
The new service products fall into five categories: security and privacy, system continuity and resiliency, data storage services, server services, and maintenance and technical support. Server services, for example, will help channel partners offer expertise in server consolidation. Hooper says the maintenance and technical support, server and storage services will be similar to service bundles that IBM channel partners are currently reselling, while the security and continuity service packages are based on newly packaged intellectual assets.
The three security service products announced Thursday are:
IBM says the UTM services benefit channel partners by simplifying security purchasing, maintenance and management. The shared firewalls and intrusion prevention services will help them reach customers that would not normally buy firewall or managed intrusion prevention devices.
IBM also unveiled new ServicePac products that let channel partners offer fixed-price, fixed-scope implementation services for IBM servers and storage systems.
The Managed UTM service and ServicePacs are available now, while the Shared Firewall and Shared IPS services will be available by mid-year. Other services, including those for system continuity and resiliency, are under development.