Sirius Claims Third Consecutive Beacon Award, Notes IBM i Trends
March 1, 2011 Dan Burger
Each year IBM presents the Beacon Awards. It’s like the Academy Awards, but without the faces you see on the magazines at the grocery store checkout counter. That is to say it is a big deal and a prestigious honor for IBM business partners that nab this piece of hardware. Sirius Computer Solutions has taken some of the drama out of this presentation after grabbing the Overall Technical Vitality award for the third year in a row. The award signifies achievement in technical excellence and innovative solutions based on IBM products and services.
“The IBM Beacon Awards recognize Business Partners who have delivered high value, innovative solutions that exemplify our focus on technical excellence, industry expertise and client satisfaction,” said Rich Hume, general manager of IBM Global Business Partners.
To receive the technical vitality award, a company must score high in areas such as project management, solution assurance, and architecture skills; infrastructure solutions and brand offerings; and customer satisfaction. A total of 11 categories are taken into account and Sirius obtained a 100 percent score in every classification.
“We are a cross-industry solution provider,” says Susan Griffin, director of corporate communications at Sirius, which is a premier business partner with IBM. “Manufacturing is where we have the largest number of clients, but our resale business is our fastest growing segment. Software is where we are increasing our industry focus.”
“We want to be able to architect the best solution based on customer needs and without preconceived notions,” says Stan Staszak, director of Power Systems services at Sirius. “We listen to what the company says about system requirements and skill sets and help them decide the best solution, coordinate implementations, and provide skills transfer.”
Sirius works as a distributor for Avnet, a source for much of the training and education that Sirius staff receives, particularly in healthcare and government. And IBM has industry-specific software that requires certification, which Sirius is attaining.
According to a statement made by Sirius president Joe Mertens, Sirius has more than 4,500 combined certifications related to IBM hardware, software, storage, networking, and financing offerings.
Sirius has more than 300 client executives, or sales representatives, that have primary responsibility for the relationship with the customers. That number has risen in recent years. Half of the technical people are certified on the IBM i platform, according to Joe Bast, director of Power Systems at Sirius.
“The Beacon Awards are very oriented toward solution selling rather than box selling. If you can provide solutions from IBM and from other partners that are sanctioned by IBM, that’s an advantage for the customer,” Bast says. Then you wrap that with things like project management, systems assurance, consultants that do the integration . . . IBM looks at the overall solution base and whether there’s a satisfied client.”
Among the Sirius customers running on IBM i, Bast sees a priority list that is affected by things such as regulatory compliance, and reduced complexity.
“I think the IBM i shop’s priority list is fairly comparable to other platform environments,” Bast says. “This is wide range of shops from small to large. We have seen a consistent need for improving high availability and disaster recovery on IBM i for the past couple of years. We fully expect that continue. There’s also an optimization of the environment as people try to push toward highly virtualized and more systems management. We have a managed services business that provides solutions.”
“We have a group that specializes in application modernization,” Griffin notes. “There are environments with decades old applications. The business there is split between IBM i and mainframes.” Another trend that I see in our midmarket customers is examining server solutions that do more with less. The Power Systems do well there. Security is another important area. This often relates to regulatory compliance issues.”
“Virtualization and server consolidation are still hot topics,” Staszak says. “Hardware costs and HA software are two areas where prices have dropped and leading to new technology being put in place. We have IBM i customers looking at things like external storage and disk space replication and data encryption as key initiatives. There are customers that are short-staffed. They are looking for partners like Sirius to provide staff augmentation or managed services.”
For more information about the IBM Beacon Awards, including a list of winners and finalists, visit this IBM PartnerWorld site.