Training looks like the hot issue in this week's ARN with Big Blue announcing it wants software distributors to specialise (see page 1 of ARN September 7 issue), Cisco complaining about a shortage of dealers with security skills and two resellers in dispute over the branding of their relevant training centres.
While the IBM news is more likely to reflect an increasingly complex product portfolio than anything else, it is hard to imagine anybody at Avnet, Express Data or Alstom IT turning cartwheels when they were sounded out about its plans.
ED has already seen Cisco weaken its hand earlier this year by adding Ingram Micro back in May. Before that news broke, ED and LAN Systems had the Cisco distribution channel to themselves following the networking giant's decision to drop Tech Pacific back in October 2003. Now it faces the very real possibility of having two major vendors dilute its position in the space of four months. So who are the most likely candidates if IBM does decide to add further software distribution muscle?
Well, Ingram Micro has been making a lot of noise about having the biggest software distribution team in Australia and would no doubt be delighted to add IBM to its stable. This wouldn't be a totally new relationship, given that it already carries the vendor's hardware. Its hardest job in winning the gig would be convincing IBM it can dedicate enough mindshare and resources to achieving the required degree of knowledge given its mammoth portfolio of more than 100 vendors.
You would also have to think LAN Systems is in the running when you look at the five portfolios that could be up for grabs: DB2 - information management; WebSphere - application and integration infrastructure; Tivoli - security and storage systems management; Lotus - content management; and Rational - software development.
Networking and security are home turf for LAN, which also started building a storage practice with the addition of EMC to its vendor line-up almost a year ago.
In other news, a leading local Cisco executive has said the company is crying out for skilled and experienced security resellers (see page 4). Conversations with its channel manager, Suzanne Hansen, following her appointment at the back end of last year, suggest the problem is one Cisco has been aware of for a while.
Hansen warned back in January that it needed to improve the security and storage skills of its existing partners as well as recruit new ones that already had expertise in those areas.
She also bemoaned how difficult and expensive it was for partners to achieve its top Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) qualification. Engineers currently need to attend training in the US but Hansen is keen to establish a local lab to help combat the problem. She also said Cisco was developing online labs to help regional partners with the travel and expense issues of training in the major cities.
Both these initiatives would surely go some way to reducing its training troubles.
Finally, two Apple resellers have fallen out after one decided to brand its training arm with a name that was strikingly similar to one being used by a competitor (see page 6). It is easy to see both sides - one is understandably aggrieved at having his marketing message diluted while the other points out that it shouldn't be a big issue when the stores are separated by a 90-minute drive. Let's hope they can resolve it between themselves instead of becoming involved in legal wrangling.