IBM Systems And Technology Group Puts Call Out To Partners

In an effort to give server and storage hardware products sales a channel boost, IBM has moved its channel organization closer to the Systems and Technology Group, with channel chief Mark Hennessy now reporting to Rod Adkins, STG senior vice president.

IBM's STG also plans to increase the partner-facing resources it devotes to channel sales by 50 percent this year, IBM executives said Tuesday at the PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.

"One of the simple objectives is to drive more resources for the partners that are focused on smarter computing and STG products," Hennessy said in a meeting with reporters at the conference.

[Related: IBM PWLC: Partners Seek Incentives, Managed Services, PureSystems Guidance ]

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"We are committed to providing more partner resources," he said. "And one of the ways we're doing that is by bringing the channel organization and the STG organization more closely together. To share resources, to have a sharper focus in terms of some of the programmatic approaches that we have in STG, some of the different incentives we have, et cetera."

Hennessy said the change is "based on feedback from partners who have said they are interested in more field engagement with us, more technical assistance and resources from us, in order to drive their solutions and have more successes in the marketplace."

Until last month Hennessy reported to Bruno De Leo, senior vice president, sales and distribution.

Hennessy was careful to emphasize that the reporting change does not diminish the channel organization's role in IBM's software and services operations.

"The channel organization will still have a cross-brand focus. We will still be an integration point, if you will, for our partners that have relationships with hardware, software and services," he said. "I continue to have a cross-IBM focus. But [this] also allows us to have a little more sharper focus in terms of STG."

NEXT: IBM's Slumping Hardware Sales

IBM's hardware sales have been on a slow decline for some time. The last time STG reported sales growth was in the third quarter of 2011. In 2012 hardware sales plunged 13 percent in the third quarter but stabilized in the fourth quarter, dropping just 1 percent and actually increasing 4 percent when factoring out the company's retail store systems sold to Toshiba in August.

Several channel partners have said that sales of IBM's PureSystems converged systems product line, launched nearly one year ago, have been slow to take off. PureSystems competes with converged system products from Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Cisco and is widely seen as a critical product for IBM in the hardware arena.

IBM has not disclosed its PureSystems sales. But during a panel session Tuesday at the conference, Andy Monshaw, IBM PureFlex general manager, said most PureSystems sales have been to enterprise customers and to managed service providers.

Adkins is scheduled to address PartnerWorld Leadership Conference attendees Wednesday.

Last week several channel partners said they were hoping to hear more about IBM's PureSystems plans at the conference. Ernie Yenke, president of Lighthouse Computer Services, a Lincoln, R.I.-based IBM Premier Business Partner, said his company has nine PureSystems certified employees. "On the hardware side, it's a big focus for us. IBM's bet a ton on it."

Waka Digital Media, a Cambridge, Mass.-based MSP that provides security, compliance and IT life-cycle services, isn't using the PureSystems servers yet, said Jacob Braun, president and COO. But in an interview after he spoke on a conference panel about MSPs, he said adopting PureSystems is "on the road map" for Waka Digital.