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Avnet Builds On Its Own Reputation, IBM Support
By John Hazard

Distributor Avnet is positioning itself to become a leader in solutions distribution.


The company is delivering the message “We are the solutions distributor,” to partners this week at IBM’s PartnerWorld conference in Las Vegas, where Avnet announced several programs supporting the mission and touted several running programs and achievements.

Avnet announced this week its membership in Blade.org, a consortium of manufacturers, resellers and ISVs brainstorming solutions and designs for blade servers. It also announced its fourth Alliance ISV partner supporting its IBM business unit as well as the expansion of its ISV collaboration portfolio.

The distributor also showcased its IBM ISV Catalog, which launched in February, a roster of its IBM ISV partners and their solutions for resale and demonstrated Ignition Online, a training tool to help resellers train new employees for IBM solution sales.

As part of IBM’s “Innovation that Matters” mission to drive solutions that change business models, unveiled this week, Avnet executives feel the company is uniquely positioned to deliver on the message.

“Our value proposition is that we are the solution provider,” said Sara Jensen, vice president of product marketing for Avnet’s IBM America’s Unit.

PointerClick here to read about why IBM is so successful in the channel.

“That involves someone’s hardware, an ISV’s applications, the integration, the final build … [Ours] is the process that broke the code to make these relationship work in the field.”

Avnet’s entry into Blade.org, for instance, provides a go-to-market sensibility into the consortium invested in the future of blade technology, Jensen said.

“We see the blade.org as the source for the next hot solutions for blade technology,” she said. “They’re all coming together working on developing the technology—we add the go-to-market.”

Avnet’s latest Alliance ISV partner, DataCom Systems, built a video surveillance application on IBM’s xSeries platform and Blade servers.

Avnet’s role, said Fred J. Cuen, president of Avnet’s Americas unit, is to find a home for such commodity products like the Blade server.

“Everything that gets commoditized presents an opportunity for specialization,” Cuen said. “It might be cheaper, but the more pieces there are out there the more complexity there is to fit together a solution. The fulfillment part is where you find solutions.”

eWEEK.com Special Report: IBM's Evolution

The ISV catalog, an extension of IBM’s own PartnerWorld Industry Network ISV program, allows Avnet VARs to find the solutions they need based on vertical markets. It includes detailed accounts of ISVs and solutions, Jensen said.

It is also the beginning of a three-step process of promoting ISV solutions. ISVs receiving more attention will be considered validated, Jensen said, and flagged for co-marketing efforts. Those successful at that step, such as DataCom, are then invited to be Alliance ISV partners, which receive a dedicated business development staff from Avnet.

In Jensen’s view, it is the model that will make IBM’s ISV solution goals work.

Ignition Online promotes VARs that are adding staff to sell particular solutions by helping them go through the basics of training from IBM products, sales skills, IBM business programs and IBM business programs, an effort which usually takes about 12 to 18 months, Jensen said.

Ignition Online, now in a pilot program, should be available in 60 to 90 days.



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