New IBM Channel GM To VARs: No Radical Changes Ahead

"Our partners should not expect to see any radical changes here," said Atkins in a conference call after being named to replace IBM General Manager Mike Borman as head of IBM's $30 billion business partner organization. "This is about taking a program that we are happy with and continuing to work in partnership with them to find ways to make it better."

The news of Borman's stunning departure, which is effective immediately, was announced internally to IBM's employees on Tuesday afternoon. Borman was in the top channel job for only 18 months.

The change comes only two months after IBM named Doug Elix to head the $90 billion computer giant's massive sales effort as vice president and group executive of IBM Global Sales and Distribution.

Borman, who had been reporting directly to Elix, will now head up IBM's sluggish iSeries midrange server business where he will report to IBM Senior Vice President and Group Executive for Servers and Technology Group Bill Zeitler.

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Atkins, who was most recently vice president of worldwide software sales, said he was in a meeting with Elix when he got the word that he was tapped for the new job. "I couldn't believe Borman was giving up this great job," said Atkins, eliciting laughter from Borman.

Atkins, who will now report to Elix, said he has been working closely with Borman on partner strategy even before the shift. "I don't expect there to be any startup time," he said. "I am picking up something from Mike here that is working pretty darn well. My intent is to just build upon the success we have had with PartnerWorld and continue to try to refine it and drive to even more success."

Atkins and Borman spent Tuesday afternoon calling a number of partners informing them of the management shift. "Even though we are changing a few chairs here, these are people I have been working with too in a lot of jobs clear back to my OS/2 days," said Atkins, a 25-year veteran. "I have got a lot of relationships here that we are building upon."

Borman said that his main task will be expanding and growing the partner base for IBM's I series business. Borman said the I series is one of the great franchises in the industry, comparable to Windows.

As to why the changes were made, Atkins said it is an "opportunity for the IBM company to move some skills around to allow us to take some experiences that each of us had individually and apply them to different parts of the business. It gives us an opportunity to kind of grow our skills and build upon experiences we have."