Beginning today, VARs in the emerging markets of Brazil, China, India and Russia will have access to a funding and support network designed to bolster the training, resources, and, ultimately, sales for IBM's Open Standards Solution providers in those countries.
Two IBM programs that were announced todayIBM Venture Capital Advisory Council and IBM Virtual Innovations Centerwill direct a stream of venture-capital funding and educational opportunities to VARs providing solutions based on open-source software and hardware specifications, but using IBM hardware, applications or application-development tools.
IBM figures indicate the company's business in emerging markets increased 25 percent to $4 billion last year.
Emerging markets are increasingly driving IBM's growth worldwide, said Mark Hanny, vice president of Independent Software Vendor Alliances at IBM. VARs and their ability to implement OSS solutions are vital to that growth, he said.
"The channel is the engine that is driving this market," Hanny said. "We made the decision to aggressively partner with the independent developers to provide total solutions and add functionality to the market. Local skill is better able to provide integration in these markets.
"This initiative gives (VARs) the tools to make things easier, to get solutions to market faster."
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Developers are now able to develop the skills needed to deliver open-standard solutions through the IBM Virtual Innovation Center, a veritable university of online classes, tutorials and mentorship, all for free.
Information about the program is available at IBM's PartnerWorld Web site.
Participants get online access to a host of virtual lectures, workshops and labs through web conference as well as mentoring programs, based on the company's popular brick-and-mortar Innovation Centers. Instructors remain available throughout the process.
Also launched today was IBM's Venture Capital Advisory Council, which will meet quarterly to identify promising new startups, primarily in emerging markets, and bring them into the IBM fold, said Drew Clark, IBM's Director of Strategy, for Venture Capital.
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"The council will examine where the innovation is taking place and pull the startups in that area into IBM's channel," Clark said. "It's a huge value to everyone involved."
The council will also provide feedback on measures, such as the Virtual Innovation Center, to improve partnerships with VARs and ISVs.
Since it first entered the VC arena in early 2000 IBM partnerships with VC backed startups has jumped from 20 to more than 750 in 2004 alone. Today IBM's business partnerships account for one-third of company revenue.