IBM is increasing opportunities for resellers in the systems management arena with the launch of Tivoli System's TME 10 product family. TME 10 represents the unification of IBM's SystemView products with those from recently acquired Tivoli Systems Corporation. The new offerings are available under the Tivoli branding, and include 25 enterprise management applications designed for distributed computing.
According to IBM's manager of software marketing, Iggy Pintado, the new offerings represent a significant opportunity for IBM's partners. "To deliver on our promise of open platforms it was essential that we get our third-party partners involved. IBM does not have a monopoly on platforms - there are a whole stack of other platforms out there like Windows NT, Sun Solaris, and we have managed those solutions for those types of customers." Pintado said business partners are essential if IBM is to be successful in this segment of the market.
Indeed, the TME products operate over a variety of IBM and non-IBM platform categories, including OS/390, OS/400, NT, OS/2 and various flavours of Unix, down to the desktop PC. The product set features core applications to provide the management framework, while extended applications augment the core applications to complete coverage in multiple disciplines.
The TME 10 product release also ties in with IBM's software business partner program BESTeam, said Pintado, which provides up-to-date information, software code and technical support for business partners. "The other thing we do is that out of the campaigns we run we will pass on qualified leads to business partners. Since the BESTeam announcement in February we have recruited over 200 business partners to this program, and the fact that we are sharing our qualified leads differentiates us from other so-called solution provider programs. We're not just providing solutions, we're actually selling and fulfilling complete solutions to our customers.
"We call them business partners, we make them part of our team, and we treat them as such."
For the TME product line, IBM has signed up three companies, BHA, CSC and IDK, as business partners. Prior to IBM's purchase of Tivoli, CSC has been supporting its products, having made several sales, including Big W.
. . . and gets flexible on pricing
As well as announcing the availability of the TME 10 suite, IBM has also taken the opportunity to revamp its pricing structure for the products. The new arrangement, under the title of 10/Flex, provides a simplified pricing structure with a flat price for server and distributed components.
Whereas in the past users may have needed to seek a quote on the systems management software requirements, depending on their server and client types, IBM says under the new arrangement users themselves are able to determine the products they require for their environment. Pricing is then calculated by multiplying the number of systems by the number of functions required, with all 25 elements of the TME 10 range ascribed a flat price.
"We're always looking at ways of simplifying the pricing model," said IBM's Iggy Pintado. "We've had feedback from customers who've said it's sometimes very difficult from other vendors with their complex pricing matrices to actually get a price for a simple configuration, so we're constantly looking at that," he said.
Pintado said the Tivoli launch is IBM's first step in looking at flexible pricing. "What we've done is ask our customers what is an easy way of doing this. There have been examples where customers have gone to vendors and asked for a really simple solution, and they've been told that they have to get a quote. There must be a simpler way of doing it."
Under the new arrangement users are able to reconfigure their management components independent of the price they paid for the modules, Pintardo said.
Ron Lunt, general manager of sales and marketing for Tivoli business partner IBK, said while the pricing arrangements are only new, he believes the new pricing model will assist in selling the product. "If I went out there, talked to a customer and asked them what their burning issues are, they might tell me about software distribution and monitoring issues. But they spend so much time managing the software licensing that they have right now, anything to overcome that problem has got the potential to meet the requirements of the dull administrative burden of having to manage those licences."
IBK: Taking Tivoli to the streets
Systems management service provider, Innovative Business Knowledge (IBK), is one of three business partners appointed by IBM to sell and support the Tivoli TME 10 products. According to IBK's general manager of sales and marketing, Ron Lunt, the Tivoli products support his company's aim of providing systems management rather than problem management.
Lunt said IBK spoke to Tivoli even prior to the IBM purchase, and has been very happy with IBM's support since that time. "In the systems management arena there's no silver bullet. But it (Tivoli) had a very good business reputation and it had a good product. The way they go to market is very focused in what they do and how they do it.
"One of the problems for systems management is the question of what does it really cost, because you're seeing a blank screen when you've got the automation up. They feel they are paying all this money for nothing - well that's not quite the case. They need to do a cost benefits analysis, and Tivoli has got the tools in place to do it.
"An IT shop's line of business application is systems management. Systems management is not just a product, it's a set of disciplines they pull together for their business. Tivoli and I are not going to be the panacea for that - it's really the services and the coordinated solution that focus on the business problems. They're the way you resolve the business issues and then you can bring in the product."
Since earlier this year IBK has been ramping up its service offering, and working to build itself into a centre of excellence for Tivoli. Lunt said he currently has a team of eight being trained in the Tivoli product range.
He says he sees a point where eventually 70Ð80 per cent of IBK's business comes from Tivoli. "One of the things that we found in Australia is that there is latent demand for this product and for systems management. But we had to focus properly and get our systems management stuff right before we went to market. From the latent demand I've seen over the past few weeks my biggest problem is that I may have to resource faster than I'd originally anticipated."