Strategic Computer Finds Success Being 'True Blue' To IBM

The Syracuse, N.Y., solution provider is exclusively aligned with IBM on hardware, software and services. Carrick says that loyalty has paid off—big time. Sales have blossomed to $65 million from $16 million in five years, all via organic growth and without debt, Carrick noted. Head count in that period rose to 95 people from 22 and will pass the 100-person mark when the company completes its acquisition of Principle Software, a Waltham, Mass., Lotus Domino and IBM WebSphere specialist.

It&s hard to be more exclusive than Strategic Computer, which is one of just a handful of IBM 5-Star Value Advantage partners worldwide. To qualify for that honor, VARs have to demonstrate proficiency in all five IBM Software brands—WebSphere, Lotus, Tivoli, Rational and DB2.

“We&re exclusive to them. Being committed to them helps us because IBM is recognized as having the best-of-breed offerings across the board, not just according to us but third parties like Gartner,” he said.

But even Carrick notes that exclusivity carries a potential downside. “Of course, there&s always the risk of being too heavily leveraged with one strategic partner. However, we feel we have such a strong relationship with IBM and trust and confidence in our relationship with them, that it&s worth it,” he said.

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It probably doesn&t hurt that Carrick spent 18 years at IBM. He knows how the company works.

But not even IBM can fulfill every need. In some deployments, for example, Strategic Computer also works with Symantec.

The solution provider also resells OnDemand services from IBM Global Services. The OnDemand model, in which IGS typically hosts applications and services for customers on a subscription basis, requires technical know-how and actual business and business-process expertise, he said. Of all the IBM certifications, this was “by far the most difficult one to get,” he said. When Strategic Computer makes such a sale, it gets an annuity stream for the life of the contract.

Because many large integrators view IGS as a huge competitive threat, IBM has been working to facilitate more collaboration between IGS and solution providers, especially in the midmarket space, where it is trying to gain traction.

To bolster its own services, Strategic Computer has brought aboard David Swits, former COO of the New York State Office of Technology, to lead its state and local government and higher education efforts.