IBM: Programs Coming To Attach More Security, Managed Services

During an IBM Security Summit in New York Tuesday, Marisa Viveros, vice president of IBM Security Services, acknowledged that not enough VARs are selling IBM security and managed services and that the vendor itself needs to do more to change that.

“Our VARs are still in the product [business], but they’re not dragging along the managed services. We have the channel enabler but we’re not using it enough. That part of the business is not getting enough leverage [with partners]. I can’t blame them. Through a study we did at IBM, we found we haven’t provided clear direction and enablement. Right now we are clearing that enablement,” Viveros said.

IBM has several big campaigns in the works to bring security and managed services to solution providers, she said.

As it is, many VARs -- IBM VARs no less -- don’t know enough about IBM’s security and services portfolio, she said.

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“There’s a lack of knowledge about our managed services. It’s an opportunity and they’re leaving money on the table. Many of them are [systems] architects and they have technical skills to do the product, but they’re not looking at the full lifecycle of the solution, the ongoing remote management of the solution,” she said.

Like its other offerings, solution providers will need proper training and authorizations to sell managed services, she said.

“At the minimum, they need to know how to sell it. There are premium and basic type services. There are standardized services. You don’t need to come back to do customization,” she said.

IBM’s strategy is to utilize partners to sell services into the SMB market, she said. “We are definitely more focused on the small, medium business segment [for the channel]. We are not very good at it and we want to have others resell our services,” Viveros said. “Our strategy [for selling services] is to incent resellers already selling [IBM] products. From there, they have an understanding of the end to end solution.”

IBM also wants solution providers to attach more of its business continuity services to solutions, Viveros said, selling how to maintain backups, mirrors of data centers.

Additionally, IBM also plans to increase its cloud-based offerings, but it feels security around those offerings is still in the development stage. That means VARs will need to be reeducated on how to sell secure cloud solutions, she said.

“Our mission -- ‘Secure By Design’ -- applies to all cloud solutions. Whatever applications you put in the cloud -- payroll, Office -- what are the threats that can go there, what are the risks, what are the mitigations? That has to be fully embedded as part of the solution," Viveros said. "That’s where VARs will play a key role, in figuring what products and services are needed to remove the barrier of moving to the cloud.

“VARs address SMB and that’s probably the segment that can offload a lot of management of applications and solutions," she added. "But if has to be very secure.”