IBM turns inside out for partners

Company gives some partners access to its researchers and unveils new unit for collaborative development.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read
IBM will give qualified business partners access to its researchers, part of a broader push to stimulate revenue through closer collaboration with partners.

The computing giant announced the research initiative on Monday at its annual PartnerWorld conference in Las Vegas.

The company is also scheduled to formally unveil a new organization within IBM, called Technology Collaboration Solutions. The unit is tasked with licensing IBM's intellectual capital and co-developing products with clients. In one instance, IBM partnered with the Mayo Clinic to design a line of electronic medical devices.

As previously reported, Adalio Sanchez will head Technology Collaboration Solutions, which will be part of the company's Systems and Technology Group.

Overall, IBM intends to expand its Rolodex of partners by making it easier for third parties, such as application providers and resellers, to access IBM's renowned research organization and its sales teams, executives said.

Starting midyear, qualified business partners can tap into IBM's technical industry expertise by working with IBM researchers.

"It's getting more difficult for any one company to drive innovation, so building the (partner) ecosystem is key for that," said Cathy Lasser, vice president of industry solutions and emerging business at IBM.

Lasser said that IBM has already enlisted some of its researchers in customer engagements. The new initiatives allow business partners to work with researchers for the first time.

For software partners, IBM has revamped its incentive program, said Scott Hebner, vice president of ISV (independent software vendor) and developer relations.

The updated scheme changes the commission structure so that application providers and consultants are better rewarded when they help IBM identify and close joint deals, Hebner said.

Other planned announcements include:

• An extension to IBM's software partner program for companies that specialize in service-oriented architecture (SOA). Qualified partners can get early access to IBM's forthcoming products, including DB2 database, code-named Viper, and the WebSphere Service Registry and Repository, which are both due around midyear. IBM will also begin hosting a catalog of prebuilt software components and technical designs that partners can use.

• A managed service for security aimed at small and medium-size businesses. In April, IBM Global Services and IBM resellers will offer a hosted offering to scan companies' networks for viruses and spyware and to filter out specific Web sites.