IBM Execs Try To Quell Partner Concerns Over x86 Sale

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IBM channel chief Marc Dupaquier said the blockbuster sale of the company's $2.3 billion x86 business to Lenovo will not disrupt the business of Big Blue channel partners.

Dupaquier, the newly appointed IBM Global Business Partner general manager, told CRN that the pending sale, which includes x86 servers and the transfer of 7,500 employees, will create new opportunities -- not headaches -- for IBM partners.

"This is not IBM killing off its x86 business. This is IBM passing the baton to a different company," Dupaquier said. "I believe the IBM brands -- System x, Flex and iDataPlex -- will continue to represent reliability and value long after the sale is approved."

Dupaquier said Lenovo will be a boost for IBM x86 partners, allowing them to take advantage of the Chinese vendor's nimble go-to-market strategy, which emphasizes competitive prices and a streamlined supply chain.

[Related: IBM, Lenovo Execs Answer x86 Server Sale Questions]

The sale of IBM's x86 server business has Big Blue partners feeling deja vu as they grapple again with a chunk of their business migrating to Lenovo. But while partners applaud the deal, which they say is reminiscent of IBM's ThinkPad sale to Lenovo in 2005, many say this time the stakes are higher and the path to bring their business to Lenovo is far from clear.

One IBM Premier partner, who asked not to be identified, is skeptical Lenovo will be able to absorb IBM's x86 channel partners without major hiccups and said that many questions still need to be answered.

"Lenovo just doesn't have the channel tools and back-end systems in place to make this a seamless transition," the partner said. "What is the transition path? How do we sell IBM Flex with Lenovo chassis? Will this impact my business? Until I hear more granular details about what the transition path is, the jury is still out."

Under the terms of the deal, IBM will continue to provide maintenance services and support on in-scope x86 products directly until the sale closes, and through Lenovo after that. "Customers can expect to see the same level of customer support and the same repair person they know and love today, tomorrow, and long after the transaction is completed," said Adalio Sanchez, general manager of IBM's System x business.

As part of the IBM sale, Sanchez's employment transfers to Lenovo along with IBM's System x senior management team, the entire System x development team, and IBM's System x sales and marketing operations, including channel managers and reps. "Does this impact the IBM channel? No. IBM partners maintain their certification, support and ability to resell the entire IBM product line under Lenovo's flag," Sanchez said.

NEXT: Partner Uncertainty

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