IBM and ISV Partnerships: What’s In It For Us?
April 18, 2011 Dan Burger
The relationship between IBM and the independent software vendors is built on mutual success. But where might that lead in terms of overall success and the health of the platform? It can mean a lot. As a case in point, let’s take a look at New Generation Software, maker of business intelligence software for IBM i shops.
Toward the end of 2010 NGS stepped up the IBM business partner ladder from the Advanced Partner rung to the Premier Partner position, a significant change in status.
IBM has a point system that allows ISVs, for example, to progress in what IBM calls its PartnerWorld program. Points are garnered in various categories. One area involves a software certification process that involves verifications with ISV customers that the products work well on the IBM i platform. Another area to make points with IBM is when an ISV helps drive the sale of IBM hardware and software. This is one of the big factors in reaching the Premier Partner level.
Obviously this is good for IBM and good for the IBM i platform. There are also rewards for New Generation Software. Receiving co-marketing money from IBM is one advantage. Deeper access to IBM technology and its research and development programs is another. That leads to improved product development on the NGS side.
The co-marketing funds are how the IBM i gets attention these days, since IBM is no longer inclined to directly market the platform. ISVs and other IBM business partners are left to carry that torch. And their marketing plans must be approved by IBM in order to receive funding.
“Two or three years ago, when we were an Advanced Partner, we participated in co-marketing with IBM,” explains Bill Langston, director of marketing at NGS. They would match funds with us if we showed them a plan for certain types of marketing expenses, like advertising in IT Jungle. If we were driving revenue and achieving certain goals from IBM perspective, they would approve co-marketing money for us. As we continued to understand this better, we were able to build more points that helped us qualify for becoming a Premier Partner.
“I’ve gotten the impression that if we continue to show the right results, there will be more money available to us under this program.”
One of the benefits of having deeper connections into IBM–on the technical as well as in the marketing areas–led to a much easier path into the IBM i Solutions Edition program that IT Jungle has reported on (see the Related Stories listing at the conclusion of this article). The Solutions Edition program is receiving a great deal of credit for boosting sales of new IBM Power Systems hardware by offering discounts on hardware-software packages such as New Generation’s NGS-IQ business intelligence solution.
“Being a Premier Partner made a difference,” Langston says, “because we had resource people who knew how to navigate within IBM and make the right statements to the right people.”
One of the big challenges in the IBM i market is getting more workloads on the platform. Recent years have seen a decline in this regard. The combination of hardware and software costs has not helped reverse this trend. The Solutions Edition program shows that IBM and the ISVs can team up to lower the costs for desirable packages, which can bring workloads back on the platform, where big increases in performance make it a good choice.
So in these partnership arrangements there’s cooperative technology and marketing that will likely play the biggest role in the future of this platform.