IBM has dedicated a floor of its new Sydney premises in St Leonards to create a solutions partnership centre where its ISV business partners can port, test and fine-tune their applications to IBM's infrastructure.
One of 17 such centres worldwide, the purpose-built facility includes a server room, demonstration rooms, a training room and several briefing rooms where IBM's business partners can bring end users to show off their wares.
The server room runs all of IBM's current series of servers in a secure, raised platform lab. In this room, developers port their applications to IBM hardware and software infrastructure and test the software for its performance and scalability. More than 40 of IBM's ISV partners had already completed porting their applications to IBM technology at the facility prior to its launch.
Garth Bassam, manager of the Sydney solutions partnership centre, said use of the labs costs $1,500 for 12 months on an "as available" basis. But he said that on most occasions the fee is waived if a partner can demonstrate the fruits of their efforts.
Big Blue is also using the facility to conduct training and technology workshops around such topics as IBM middleware, Linux and Web services. An educational centre sits within the facility, containing 24 workstations, and similar facilities are provided for IBM partners in other Australian cities via outsourcing agreements with the likes of Clifton & Associates. Typically the classes run for two to four days, and are either free or have a minimal fee (in the order of $500), depending on the course content.
The services offered to business partners are not limited to Sydney, Bassam said. Partners in other areas of Australia can access some of its resources via a high-speed, secure VPN (virtual private network) link, which operates independently of IBM's own network.
Andrew Baker, director of global business partners for IBM Australia/NZ, said that more than 50 per cent of IBM's non-services revenues in Australia come from business partners. IBM made a decision in the 1990s to dissolve its applications business to focus on infrastructure technology such as middleware (WebSphere application server, DB2 Database) and server hardware, he said. Now Big Blue is trying to foster closer relationships with ISV partners, who no longer see IBM as a threat to their business.
Interested parties can gain access to the facilities by expressing their interest with one of IBM's channel sales staff, Baker said. Any company that uses the facilities must first become a member of IBM's PartnerWorld for Developers program.