IBM Expands Marketing, Education Programs For SOA Partners


IBM currently has more than 7,400 business partners working with the company's SOA technology, and they generated more than 10,000 sales leads last year, said Sandy Carter, vice president of IBM SOA and WebSphere. Last year, the number of solution providers working with IBM SOA products increased 48 percent, according to Carter.

Topping the list of new marketing initiatives is SOAsocial, a social network IBM is launching for its SOA software channel partners and their customers. The network will let solution providers contribute to activity content feeds and provide a forum for solution providers and SOA software users to discuss technology issues, and relevant activities and events.

Using social networking tools to generate sales leads can cost one-tenth that of traditional methods, Carter said.

IBM is also revamping its online business catalog of SOA products and solutions from third-party vendors with a new "live chat" feature. Carter said the catalog, which lists some 23,500 SOA assets, offers solution providers an opportunity to gain market visibility by listing their SOA-related services.

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To help partners capture emerging SOA opportunities, IBM has expanded its portfolio of industry-specific SOA frameworks that channel partners can use to build and validate their applications. The preconfigured systems, which customers can rapidly deploy, include insurance process acceleration and network computing operations frameworks.

IBM is also jointly developing new products and services with some of its solution and service provider partners. The first such product is a new Software-as-a-Service platform composed of IBM's WebSphere integration software and HubSpan's on-demand business-to-business integration platform.

On the education side, IBM will be offering 19 free SOA and WebSphere certifications at Impact 2009 to those who attend sessions at the conference to build up their skills and take the required certification tests. Starting in October IBM is requiring certification for its software resellers under the controlled distribution plan it announced in February.

Also for partner training, the company is updating its online Innov8 role-playing game that uses scenarios for training in such areas as managing a customer service call center and a "green" supply chain.

IBM has also updated its online "sandbox," where partners can try out the vendor's SOA software. The site offers four new "scenarios" that help developers build applications for real-time customer call centers, dynamic connectivity, SOA testing and managing an organization's local carbon footprint.