IBM Adds 24 Pre-Configured, Partner-Ready SMB Solutions for Analytics, Cloud, Collaboration, Security

Grazed from ITChannel.  Author: D.H. Kass.

IBM Corp. said that it will add 24 pre-configured hardware and software bundles for analytics, cloud computing, collaboration and security technologies aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and backed by $1 billion in financing through the vendor’s Global Financing arm.

The new solutions build on an offer the company initiated in June, 2010, in which it incorporated custom financing into a collection of five solutions constructed around analytics, help desk, IT monitoring, collaboration and data protection under an umbrella called Cost Buster Solutions...

Ed Abrams, IBM midmarket business vice president, said that the vendor’s success with the initial Cost Busters solutions showed that adding financing made the proposition more suitable for SMBs and provided the blueprint for the new bundles.

“We looked at what we had done in the past and saw significant increases in customer interest and partners’ ability to sell these solutions, so much so that we made a bigger investment this time,” he said.

IBM’s financing options typically have been reserved for the technology itself rather than a set of specific solutions but the vendor now believes that adding financing will help partners to better address SMB customers’ needs and ease budget constraints.

“We believe that we have hit upon on a marketplace need,” said Abrams. “From our partners’ perspective we are bringing together solutions for their customers with easy financing and, for end users we have found ways to help them deliver on real business issues and challenges,” he said.

IBM is extending the $1 billion credit infusion for 18 months worldwide. Financing will be made available to SMBs through the vendor’s channel partners from a separate pool of money specific to the offering that has been set aside, Abrams said. A minimum transaction size of $5,000 is required to participate.

“We want to make a substantial impact on the marketplace so that a significant number of SMBs will take advantage of this opportunity,” he said.

SMB solutions partner-ready

IBM’s 29 Cost Buster solutions are based on a mix of technologies from the vendor's recent cloud, analytics and security acquisitions such as Cast Iron, BigFix, SPSS, Netezza and Cognos. The collections have been constructed as partner-ready solutions and are customizable based on client needs, Abrams said.

“We recognize that our customers prefer to do business with local trusted business partners,” he said. “That is why we took the time to ensure that the solutions were optimized for partners to deliver to customers and made certain that the financing was easy to access for their customers,” he said.

Rather than grouping the 29 SMB solutions by technology, the vendor has segmented the list by business use.

“Everything is customizable by the individual partner,” said Abrams. “Hard bundles do not work for customers or partners,” he said.

Categories include six solutions for Turning Information Into Insights; six solutions to Drive Business Integration and Optimization; four solutions under Connect and Collaborate; two solutions for Enable Product and Service Integration; five solutions to Manage Risk Security and Compliance; and six solutions for Optimize the Impact of Infrastructures and Services.

Channel partners will have a single point of contact within IBM to support the solution bundles, Abrams said.

IBM has been formulating the new solution bundles for more than a year and intends to bring additional entries to the market next year, he said.

“A large reason for why we’re doing this, putting such a big emphasis here, is that we recognize that SMBs will be the engine of growth as the economy turns and gets better,” said Abrams.

“We are committed from every aspect of our business to ensure that SMBs can grow and leverage technology for their success, and we want to be a part of that success,” he said.