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IBM Software Gains Server Chief's Expertise

Seems like IBM's decision the first week of January to move the former head of its iSeries server division to the position of VP of software sales is a sound one. Granted, that server chief, Mike Borman, was with the group for only a short time, less than six months. But he successfully completed his job at that division: transitioning the group from the P4 architecture to the P5. In addition, his background as former general manager of IBM global business partners, should give him excellent credentials to head up the software unit.

Why is that? Because dealing with partners gives an executive a valuable perspective on his or her company's products, and on the perception of those products. Borman paid his dues at IBM as GM of global partners. That means he visited value-added resellers of IBM's iSeries, and discussed the servers' strengths and weaknesses, as well as the way the server division treated the VARs. He got a view that is different from one you'd get if you just wanted to know about the product. That's because a vendor might have an excellent product, but offer no support to those in the channel -- the ones who actually sell the product to the end-user. Borman recognized that and was a champion for their cause. For example, Borman was key in including IBM's partners' concerns in planning sessions. It's only common sense that easing communication between vendor and channel will lead to happier partners -- who might then be more likely to recommend your product to perspective customers.

Apparently, IBM has been treating its iSeries partners well. Our sister publication, VARBusiness, conducts an annual survey of resellers and solution providers, and asks them how well vendors and specific product lines are doing, both in terms of the actual product and channel management. Last year, in the midrange server category, the iSeries took first place, beating out HP's High-End ProLiant (x86) servers. Particularly of note were the partners' loyalty to the product and the iSeries' quality and reliability. However, the survey, which was undertaken in the spring and early summer of 2004, revealed that VARs wanted IBM to continue to improve the ease in which partners do business with the company.

So Borman's replacement, Mark Shearer, has his work cut out for him. Shearer most recently served as vice president of marketing and strategy for IBM's Systems and Technology Group, and therefore he is logical choice for the vacancy. I hope Shearer will reach out to the reseller community and take their ideas and suggestions seriously in order to continue to improve the iSeries line.

Jennifer Bosavage is editor of
Server Pipeline