Distributors Rally For IBM Storage VAR Recruits

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Tech Data, Ingram Micro and Synnex are all mounting campaigns to recruit more storage VARs for IBM, which has resulted in a large wave of sign-ups.

One big boost to the initiatives is a move by Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM to eliminate the stringent certification requirements for VARs selling its low-end storage line, effective July 1. Now, any VAR enrolled in IBM's Personal Computer Division (PCD) PartnerWorld program is automatically authorized to carry the low-end offerings.


 • Strict requirements on low-end storage products eliminated.
 • PartnerWorld Personal Computer Division VARs automatically authorized.
 • IBM brought all PartnerWorld programs under single framework.

As part of its recruitment campaign, Tech Data held an IBM-focused breakout session at its TechSelect solution provider conference last month. The distributor also unveiled a new program that allows TechSelect members to earn 8 additional points of margin for surpassing baseline IBM sales quotas for the current quarter. Under the special program, TechSelect members can receive a maximum incremental profit of $20,000.

"We are seeing some nice results early on," said Joe Serra, vice president of product marketing for networking and storage at Tech Data, Clearwater, Fla.. "This new TechSelect program is going to kick it to the next level."

Serra said IBM's decision to merge its server and storage groups into a single organization is also paying off for the computer giant. "IBM has structurally changed so that xSeries and storage are in sync," he said. "That has made a big difference. Now, more xSeries VARs are looking at selling IBM storage when they sell a server."

Sam Ruggeri, president of Advanced Vision Technology Group, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based TechSelect member, said he expects his IBM sales to double in the second half of the year compared with the first six months because of the new initiatives from TechSelect and IBM. He also said the IBM storage push should help the vendor capture a bigger share of the market. "We are certainly looking at it," he said.

Frank Vitagliano, IBM's vice president of global distribution channels, agreed that the multimillion-dollar recruitment effort is aimed at grabbing a bigger slice of the pie from competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and EMC.

"We are trying to get those resellers that are today selling a lot of IBM ThinkPads, xSeries servers and workstations to increase the amount of IBM storage they are selling with those products," Vitagliano said.

Other distribution executives said IBM's recent move to bring all its PartnerWorld programs under a single umbrella is also making a big difference in getting VARs to take on its storage line.

"IBM and Ingram are really building messaging around a total [IBM] solutions orientation," said Joe Gruca, vice president of sales at Ingram Micro, Santa Ana, Calif. The distributor held a two-day IBM business partner training program in June that attracted 161 Ingram Micro VARs. There, IBM's complete product line was put under one roof so the VARs could see the power of pulling together an all-IBM solution, he said.

"We're seeing lots of momentum around this [IBM campaign] with a big close for 2004 and continuing momentum in 2005," Gruca said.

Leonard DiCostanzo, executive vice president of clients at ICP, a Staten Island, N.Y.-based solution provider that attended the Ingram Micro training conference, said ICP is now moving aggressively into the IBM storage market as a result. ICP is also now leveraging IBM software to promote ICP's Strada business process management software product. ICP already carries HP storage products but now is focusing more on the effort, DiCostanzo said. "This is a wonderful opportunity to grow our IBM business," he said. "It's a big initiative."

Synnex is also seeing a dramatic increase in the number of VARs carrying IBM storage offerings since it launched its campaign with IBM, said John Paget, North American president and COO of Synnex, Fremont, Calif.

A big factor in the Synnex program's success is the ability to leverage its BSA Sales unit to provide VARs with qualified IBM storage leads, Paget said. "VARs love it because we are giving them a hot, qualified lead," he said.

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