IBM Expands Channel Program Around XIV Storage Line

IBM this quarter is adding new front-end and back-end margins, services, and certifications for channel partners who work with the company's XIV line of high-end storage arrays.

IBM got the product line with the January 2009 acquisition of XIV, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based firm headed by Moshe Yanai, one of the top developers of EMC's Symmetrix storage line.

Since then, the XIV has become one of IBM's fastest-growing product lines, with sales growing from $5 million in 2007 to $68 million in 2008 to $280 million in 2009, said Jim Sullivan, vice president of IBM system storage and a former president of XIV.

IBM's XIV family of storage arrays are built from industry-standard hardware building blocks, and include three different tiers of storage inside the box so customers can migrate data based on price and performance requirements.

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The XIV includes such software features as snapshots, thin provisioning, and remote mirroring, and available in capacity points starting at 20 Tbytes.

Thanks to the XIV, IBM in 2009 managed to snag 400 new customers who had not purchased IBM storage for at least three years, Sullivan said. About 73 percent of sales of the XIV line goes through a group of about 300 solution providers worldwide, including 190 partners in the U.S. and Canada, he said.

"We've built a very channel-focused program for high-end storage, even though we've brought in a large number of direct sales reps since the acquisition," he said.

Starting in March, IBM plans to beef up its XIV channel program on several levels, Sullivan said.

The company will add an incremental 2.5 percent back-end rebate, along with extra incremental front-end rebated and new co-marketing funds.

IBM is also adding a new post-sales implementation services and certification program for solution providers. "We're encouraging our partners to do more of the deployment themselves," he said.

Also new this quarter is the ability to hold a deal registration for six months in order to make sure partners who invest in selling the XIV have a better chance of closing, he said.

The changes come while IBM is looking to recruit more partners, said Mike McClurg, global channel executive at IBM.

"We're looking for sales expertise in information management, enterprise backup and recovery, and consolidation," he said.