It's A Virtual World, Baby

Last month, IBM, Armonk, N.Y., appointed former storage executive Rich Lechner to spearhead virtualization efforts across all of its groups, including software, servers, storage, global services and channel. In an interview with CRN last week, Lechner said IBM will work to ensure that its business partners have the right skill sets to continue capitalizing on the growing demand for virtualization products and services, and that IBM&'s virtualization message is better communicated.

It&'s a move solution providers welcomed, particularly as virtualization moves more toward mass acceptance. “We see a lot of financial savings and benefits from deploying virtualization—and IBM isn&'t doing a good enough job in their sales efforts of talking about the performance benefits,” said Scott Severson, vice president of systems and storage at Berbee Information Networks, an IBM Premier Business Partner in Madison, Wis.

Lechner said IBM, among its virtualization programs slated for 2006, plans to hold a series of seminars and training for potential customers presented at Business Partner Innovation Centers (BPICs).

“We want to help drive demand and help leverage [the BPIC] assets,” Lechner said.

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IBM&'s BPIC partners would like to see more promotion from IBM, particularly with its internal sales force. BPICs require significant investment to build and maintain and solution providers want the additional leverage.

Severson noted another reason why it is in IBM&'s best interest to promote the BPICs: Berbee closes nearly 80 percent of business that comes through its BPIC.

As part of the program, IBM also has launched a series of advertisements that will highlight the benefits of server and storage virtualization and is putting together a virtualization road show. IBM additionally plans to initiate training programs to improve solution provider consultation skills around virtualization.