IBM Pushing Mainframes

The vendor remains committed to developing the channel for its eServer zSeries and continues to see growth at the low end of the line, where partners play a major role, said Robert Hoey, worldwide vice president of sales for enterprise servers at IBM, Armonk, N.Y. Hoey said about 25 percent of IBM's mainframe revenue in 2004—35 percent in the fourth quarter—was contributed by the company's dozen or so mainframe partners. And when it comes to the zSeries 890, the model specifically targeted at midsize accounts, the figure jumps to 60 percent, he said.

"There's a respect in the industry for mainframe skills," said Roger Luca, executive vice president of Mainline Information Systems, an IBM Business Partner in Tallahassee, Fla.

"We still need the high priests," Hoey said, referring to the integration skills needed for the infrastructure consolidation projects enabled by the zSeries. That's why IBM plans to train an additional 20,000 people on the zSeries platform by 2010, with a wary eye to market research that suggests many existing mainframe experts will retire in another two years, he said.

By exposing key business partners to these skills, IBM can not only broaden its mainframe footprint with smaller enterprises, but also better leverage partners to convince customers contemplating a switch from mainframes to at least stay in the IBM server family, Hoey said.

Sponsored post

Luca pointed to the zSeries Application Assist Processor and specialty engines for deploying Java as just two features that have helped Mainline use existing mainframe hardware for additional application workloads.

Likewise, Joe Mertens, executive vice president of Sirius Computer Solutions, an IBM partner in San Antonio, said his accounts are moving additional workloads to the mainframe line, especially for applications related to Linux and WebSphere.