With its new-look support and warehouse facilities, Alstom IT has stepped in to fill IBM's "reviewed distribution model" as the distributor formerly known as Sealcorp fades from the IBM/Lotus limelight.
With the distribution rights to IBM/Lotus products, Alstom IT has appointed a dedicated product manager for IBM software and four account managers with experience in selling IBM/Lotus backed by a technical support team - a replication of the value-added distribution model the company has had recent success with, with Citrix.
Laurie Sellers, chief executive of Alstom IT, said the company has been appointed to fill the void created when IBM "revised its distribution channel" in recent weeks. Alstom IT now joins existing distributors Express Data and Tech Pacific.
"Basically, [Sealcorp is] not [distributing] IBM now are they?" claims Sellers. "IBM already has distributors who do fulfilment and licensing. What they wanted was a partner who could offer additional services."
And there is a lot at stake, according to Sellers. "There's $10-20 million worth of business going begging in the market, and we're presenting ourselves as the value added distributor to pick up a large chunk of that this year - and potentially grow that in the future," he said.
The announcement comes after on-and-off discussions with IBM for the past two years, claim Sellers. Alstom IT is now in the position to offer its channel partners the pre- and post-sales support they might require to bid for a whole tender. The distributor will be "on-selling" its professional services arm, which accounts for a third of its national staff.
Meanwhile, IBM continued to be noncommittal regarding Sealcorp's future as an IBM distributor. However, Brod Brennan, IBM's software alliances manager, claimed it was too early to discount the renamed Brocker Vendor Services just yet.
"We're still talking to Sealcorp on a regular basis," Brennan claimed, pointing to Sealcorp's recent announcement to move into the SMB space under the Brocker label. "IBM is considering more partners in that space," he added.
The decision to appoint Alstom represents IBM's "clear market strategy", claims Brennan, in light of the vendor's Value Compensation Model rolled out earlier in the year.
With the initiative, IBM is looking to reward distributors and reseller partners based on the services they bring to the table, as opposed to volume sales. While Brennan was unwilling to comment on which distributor was accounting for the lion's share of IBM's distribution dollars, he did confirm IBM is conducting "ongoing discussions with all our distributors" regarding revenue forecasts.
Brennan alluded to a long period of soul searching for Big Blue. As margins for distributors at the large enterprise level continue to shrink, a 35 per cent growth in the middleware market underpinned IBM's decision to reassess its distribution model. "We needed to take a long hard look at our distributors," said Brennan.