SOURCE: IBM

June 21, 2006 17:54 ET

IBM Extends Virtualization Strategy and Reach With New Business Partner Program

Business Partner Innovation Centers Allow Clients to "Test Drive" IBM Virtualization Solutions to Accelerate Adoption

ARMONK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 21, 2006 -- IBM today announced a virtualization education and sales initiative designed to ease the adoption of virtualization technologies by small and medium businesses (SMB). The program includes adding new capabilities and enablement programs to more than 40 IBM Business Partner Innovation Centers that are selling IBM's Virtualization Engine portfolio.

IBM's small and medium size clients are reaping the benefits of the company's mainframe-inspired virtualization technologies being injected across other platforms, driving new economics in their IT infrastructures. IBM's virtualization portfolio is designed to help increase the availability, resiliency and utilization of clients' infrastructures.

Already, more than 65 percent of IBM's virtualization sales are driven by IBM Business Partners targeting small and medium size business clients. Leading industry analyst firm Gartner estimates that 40 percent of midsize businesses will reduce their server population by at least 20 percent in the next year through virtualization. (1)

The new IBM Virtualization Test Drive program is designed to help partners more easily sell IBM's Virtualization Engine portfolio. To kick off the partner program, IBM is using selected Business Partner Innovation Centers throughout North America to demonstrate to SMB customers the benefits of virtualizing their server and storage infrastructures.

The program includes assistance in setting up a center of competence, technical and industry education, sales enablement and support and tools to help IBM Business Partners assist their clients to design and implement virtualization solutions around IBM's Virtualization Engine portfolio. The IBM Business Partners can also provide a "real world" environment in their innovation centers to simulate client scenarios and test applications. By attending training sessions at the IBM Business Partner's Innovation Centers, clients can see that IBM's Virtualization Engine offerings go beyond the abilities of most competitive offerings: The IBM technology portfolio can reduce both planned and unplanned outages, ease data migrations and lower the costs for disaster recovery sites as well as manage an entire virtualized infrastructure.

Modeled after a successful sales and training campaign for the IBM eBusiness program, the new initiative offers an aggressive strategy to overcome the major challenges inhibiting clients' adoption of virtualization. Key to this strategy is proving the business benefits of virtualization, expanding the skills available to assist in design and deployment, and extending market reach through business partners.

"We see this program strategy as a natural evolution to expand our virtualization ecosystem," said Rich Lechner, vice president, Virtualization, IBM. "We are using this approach to educate our clients on the business benefits of virtualization and demonstrate how easy it is to get started. In conjunction with IBM's extensive sales force, we are enabling our most-qualified business partners to help market offerings that both anticipate and answer our clients' needs while easing entry into the technology and showing immediate results and value."

Clients around the world are deploying IBM's end-to-end virtualization technologies, often combining various hardware and software from various providers, to make one system look and act like multiple systems or make multiple systems look and be act like one system, simplifying the management and operation of their technology infrastructure

Small and medium size businesses, traditionally slower to adopt emerging technology because of limited resources and IT budgets, through education, are now embracing virtualization at the same rate as large businesses. A recent IBM customer survey found that as many as half of all SMB customers are either currently using virtualization technology or are planning to implement at least one virtualization function within the next year.

The IBM Virtualization Test Drive partner program is already seeing impact. Micro Strategies Inc., with facilities in New Jersey and Massachusetts, was one of the first IBM Business Partners to take advantage of the new program. Micro Strategies attended IBM's first Teach the Teacher workshop, where they completed an intensive course of training on how virtualization technologies can solve client problems and provide benefits to businesses. Only three weeks following the training, Micro Strategies, Inc. hosted its first monthly virtualization test drive session for its customers.

"We have found an 80 percent sales success rate when our clients come in to experience solutions first hand, and we have already received sales leads from our first virtualization test drive session," said Anthony Bongiovanni, President, Micro Strategies Inc. "With IBM's new Virtualization Test Drive program, we are helping customers understand the TCO of virtualization technologies as well as use the technology in a risk-free environment."

IBM is expanding the program to Europe and plans to roll out the "Virtualization Test Drive" partner program worldwide later this year. The partner program augments IBM's broad internal sales force that focuses on selling IBM's Virtualization Engine portfolio. Additionally, the program complements IBM's software partner initiative -- Ready for Virtualization -- that extends support for applications on IBM servers and storage managed by IBM's Virtualization Engine portfolio.

About IBM's Business Partner Innovation Centers

IBM Business Partner Innovation Centers serve as the ideal platform to showcase IBM products and related technologies, along with Business Partner solutions and services, bringing industry solutions into the customers' hands. IT Distributors with IBM Business Partner Innovation Centers use the facilities to provide training and technical enablement workshops while facilitating demand-generation activities to hundreds of their partners annually, radiating the impact of these facilities to a broader swath of the business. On average, Business Partner Innovation Centers drive an 80 percent sales closing rate for client engagements. For more information on our Business Partner Innovation Centers, or to find one, please visit: www.ibm.com/partnerworld/bpic

(1) Gartner Research, "How Server Virtualization Benefits Midsize Business," John Enck and James A. Browning, June 6, 2006

For more information on IBM, visit ibm.com. For more information on IBM's Virtualization Engine products and offerings, visit ibm.com/systems/virtualization.

For more information on Micro Strategies Inc., go to microstrat.com.

IBM is a copyrighted trademark of IBM Corporation. Statements concerning IBM's future development plans and schedules are made for planning purposes only, and are subject to change or withdrawal without notice.

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