A NEW certification scheme is increasing the confidence of resellers to invest in their IBM software practices.
Around ten resellers are in the process of becoming certified under the programme, which rewards partners, who focus on selling IBM software, with preferential pricing.
Those who have already achieved the certification say it is giving them an advantage over rivals who spent less on pushing IBM products, but could procure the software for the same price.
Greg Woolley, managing director of Certus Consulting, an IBM-only shop, says the certification programme is helping Certus differentiate itself as a company with significant skills in the IBM range.
“We have always had a lot of emphasis on staff training, but before there was no difference between us and a two-man band that just started up,” says Woolley.
Certus has acquired certifications for IBM’s Websphere, DB2 and Lotus products and is in the process of doing the same for Tivoli and Rational.
Woolley says the certification programme has eased doubts held by IBM software partners over its commitment to the channel.
“Last year partners started to question IBM’s commitment to the channel, but this has given us confidence to put all our bets on IBM,” he says.
Nigel Walker of Wellington-based software development firm Equinox agrees the programme is more supportive of the channel.
“IBM has definitely looked at the New Zealand and Australian marketplace and created this new initiative specifically for it, which is positive,” he says.
The certification Equinox has achieved for the Rational range will help it protect its ten years’ experience with the software, says Walker.
“Rational is a strong focus for the company. We have about 30 certified Rational consultants,” he says.
Steven Worrall, general manager of IBM’s software group for Australia and New Zealand, says the certification programme is part of IBM’s aim to increase the contribution the channel makes to the unit’s revenue from 33 to 40% this year.
IBM already sells all of its new software licences, apart from mainframe operating systems, through the channel in New Zealand, says Simon Holland, manager of the software group in New Zealand.
These moves appear to be paying off. Worrall reports that IBM sold more software in the first half of this year than in all of 2004.
Meanwhile, IBM New Zealand has launched two other tools it says will help partners increase client satisfaction and drive revenue.
Practice Accelerator is designed to assist system integrators and value-added resellers build business practices around IBM middleware. Solutions Builder Express aims to help partners, including independent software vendors, rapidly develop and deploy IBM industry and infrastructure solutions relevant to the SMB market.