The IBM PC company has drawn together three different facets of its parent company to create a program designed to assist users in deploying, maintaining and using technology.
The good news for the channel is that the program, SystemXtra, is only available through business partners.
IBM senior vice president Sam Palmisano said IBM had been looking at ways to combine technologies with packaged solutions and services. "At the same time there has always been a concern of customers on obsolescence (of computers)," said Palmisano, "because the product cycles were so short, and microprocessor advancements were so fast that people see the residual value becoming significantly less than the original purchase price."
Palmisano said this particular concern is addressed in SystemXtra through a three-year leasing program, which allows businesses to update their hardware after two years, if desired.
IBM's general manager of customer integrated offerings, Judith Smolski, said that leasing is only one component of the SystemXtra offering, which overall has been designed to address the frustration felt by buyers in the acquisition, installation and management of PC networks.
The second element is the IBM PC hardware itself, which Smolski says has become increas-ingly optimised for remote manageability, through technologies such as Wake-On-LAN, to allow administrators to centrally manage their remote PCs. Many users in the US are even allowing resellers to perform these functions for them.
SystemXtra also incorporates "shrink-wrapped" support solutions from IBM Global Services. These packages are sold to end users through resellers, and can be used by resellers to plug gaps in their own service offerings.
Smolski said the leasing option is provided through IBM Credit Corporation, and was introduced to eliminate customer concern over rapid technology depreciation cycles.
It offers a three-year residual value lease, with the 24-month technology exchange available on purchases of $75,000 made over 12 months. IBM credit removes the old machines for refurbishment and eventual resale.
IBM PC Company Australia's general business program manager, Russell Evans, said SystemXtra provides a vehicle that will make it easier for business partners to sell their services. "And that's an area a lot of our resellers are trying to move into, but they've got this sales force that are used to selling hardware," Evans said.
"The business partner is making the traditional margin on PCs, and they're finding an easier way to sell their own services. If they want to fill in some gaps in their service requirements for their customer, they buy the service pack from IBM, and package that into the total customer solution."