CW: What about the front-end sales guys of partner organizations? Don't you think most of them are neglected in the overall process of a project?
Balasubramanian: We held an event called the Blue Wave in seven different cities, meant for front-end sellers from partner organizations. They're the ones toiling out in the market to finalize newer deals and close old ones. It was an event where we gave them awards for their exemplary performance. The whole idea of a partner seller getting awarded in front of his CEO and other industry bigwigs is a big thing. We have already conducted this event in Hyderabad and Bangalore.
CW: What would the breakdown of market share be in India's channel market at the end of this year?
Balasubramanian: Around 50 percent would be volume sellers, and the rest would be value sellers. However, depending on the kind of efforts, there's also a possibility that 75 percent would be value sellers by year end. The transformation needs to happen at the marketplace because if you just talk about volume and boxes, it's like getting into a commoditized business. The partners have to move up in the value chain and become value sellers--not mere box pushers. The customer would he happy if there are more talks around value selling around a solution, rather than just budget-related conversations.
CW: From a networking perspective, how has IBM evolved?
Balasubramanian: Everyone is moving towards creating a unified platform. A unified platform has storage components, compute, and networking components. Cisco is known for its networking, and not for its compute and store. So these formations are happening in the market. If you want to buy servers on the store, we have multiple blade servers. We have been a showstopper with our Pure Systems, but networking has not been a good area for us. Therefore, for active networking components, we do partner with third-party players to fulfil that need.
CW: Players like EMC and many others are helping their partners transform into service providers. Is there a similar strategy in IBM wherein you help partners sell everything as a service and not just storage or backup?
Balasubramanian:We are certainly in the game. It is a highly customized engagement--more of a financial partnership, and as important as a technology partnership. We do work collaboratively with IBM Global Financing. Our strategy is simple from a technology standpoint. We provide MSPs with the building blocks, and actively engage in the game. We are also focussed on upcoming MSPs, wherein we offer them a pay-as-you-grow model. Also, our Pure Systems fits rather very well with the MSP story.
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