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IBM Goes After the Midmarket With SOA Offerings

IBM on Monday kicked off a redoubled effort to drive its services-oriented architecture (SOA) initiative down into the midmarket, announcing at its PartnerWorld conference a raft of programs, tools and software directed at business partners.

Chief among the new offerings is an SOA Specialty within its PartnerWorld Industry Networks that will provide technical enablement and a skills-building road map for partners. The program makes available a number of benefits for those partners who reach milestones, including access to SOA Connection Events, which allows them to meet with SOA sales specialists, get discounted print advertising and help with closing SOA-related deals.

The new program has three different levels. The entry level requires partners to train at least one person in their organization on SOA-related products and does not require partners to register. The second level, called the SOA Specialty, gives partners access to IBM SOA experts to help close deals. The third level is “by invitation only” and includes co-funding for marketing partners as well as access to IBM executives. However, to qualify for the third level, partners must agree to meet certain revenue levels, and their products must meet IBM's compatibility criteria.

“The first question partners ask is how they get started with SOA. With [the entry-level program], we are announcing a zero barrier to entry for SOA,” says Sandy Carter, vice president of channels, SOA and Websphere for IBM's Software Group. “We'll give partners access to tools, software downloads like Websphere Community Edition, as well as education, all without registering.”

Some observers believe IBM has some work ahead to do before it can make the sort of inroads among partners dealing with smaller companies that it has with partners dealing with larger corporate accounts.

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