IBM’s decision to enforce product specialisations across its software channel base has split the partner community into positive and negative camps.
Queensland-based integrator, Sundata, is one of several partners who chose not to invest in deeper specialist skills and will no longer be able to sell software product licences.
Executive director, Kon Kakanis, attributed its decision to limited resources and insufficient geographic coverage to justify accreditation costs.
Sundata largely sold Domino licences, as well as Tivoli and WebSphere licence sales occasionally. Kakanis was sympathetic to IBM’s view that partners doing low volumes could potentially be providing a low quality of service, but insisted it hadn’t experienced any issues previously.
“We weren’t lacking skills, but we had to shut down and hand over to partners in Brisbane that were niche IBM software certified,” he said. Kakanis estimated 3-4 per cent of its total revenue came from IBM software sales and services.
“We have customers we have been looking after for years and have a very good relationship with, who have bought IBM software from us. But particularly in a marketplace like ours or Adelaide, where it’s not a huge market, it’s hard to invest,” he said of the program changes. “We would have to put increased investment into certifying… and we only have so much time to invest in engineer training.
“Our perception is that it was an unnecessary investment for our customer’s interest to be protected. We have no real regrets, but it was slightly annoying that 3 or 4 per cent of our business disappeared overnight.”
Sundata is now beefing up skills in Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange, as well as the Commvault portfolio, to meet the gap in business and technology offerings.
“It’s easier to get people with a Microsoft background,” Kakanis claimed. “We’re also very happy with the CommVault product as it is more suitable to our mid-tier customer base.”
Artis Group managing director, Peter Guides, is still in discussions with IBM and hoping it can continue supplying the vendor’s broad software range. The Sydney-based integrator focuses on Lotus and Tivoli product offerings in the top-end mid-market space.