IBM has rethought its distribution model again, and is on the verge of signing a standard distribution contract with OpenPSL.
Big Blue announced in September that it was considering a change to its distribution model that would see it offer four distributors - Ideal Enterprise Solutions, SCH, Metrologie and OpenPSL - contracts similar to those of its large VARs (CRN, 16 September).
However, sources close to the firm have said it is now likely that IBM will offer only OpenPSL a standard distribution contract, for its Unix and storage business.
"We are 75 per cent sure that we will sign with IBM," said John Toal, sales and marketing director at OpenPSL. He added that the distributor hopes to sign a contract before IBM's new financial year begins in January, although other sources have said a contract could be signed as early as this week.
Toal added that a few areas needed ironing out. "There are still questions on what value the deal would bring to both parties, and this is something we need to fully understand before we go ahead," he said.
OpenPSL has traditionally been a Hewlett-Packard (HP) distributor, and some sources said the deal could leave HP disgruntled. However, only two months ago, HP itself appointed Metrologie as its HP-UX distributor, alongside OpenPSL, and observers have pointed out that OpenPSL needs to protect its business.
"This could be an indication that OpenPSL believes the HP/Metrologie move will have more of an impact than it first thought," said one channel executive.
However, John Young, enterprise Unix and storage channel manager at HP, said he believes OpenPSL will handle the situation professionally.
"OpenPSL will maintain its commitment to HP. Given the length of our relationship we do not expect the firm's level of commitment to either us or our reseller partners to diminish," he said.
IBM is already distributed by Avnet and Magirus in the Unix and storage space, but Toal said that, if OpenPSL does get the contract, it will not be taking market share from them. "This is about bringing in incremental business," he said. "There is no value to anyone if we just take a slice of the existing market."
However, Tony Stirrup, managing director of Magirus, said: "Any new distributor, no matter who it is signing with, will promise incremental business. Inevitably there will be some low-hanging business that it will take. However, I'm confident that our service is good enough."
But Stirrup added that he did not believe it was a done deal, and pointed out that Big Blue had also reached this stage of discussions with Sun Channel Development Partner tplc earlier this year.
In May IBM was very close to signing a deal with tplc (CRN, 13 May). But talks collapsed amid rumours that tplc's parent company, Fujitsu Services Multivendor Computing, was due to be sold by Fujitsu Services (CRN, 1 July).
'Smaller firms may struggle to keep up with Microsoft's innovation with Dynamics' says CEO Stuart Fenton after acquiring assets from Profile Enterprise Solutions
Pete Peterson admits the firm hasn't always been the 'easiest company to do business with'
New chief exec Aaron Painter says 'longer-term strategy' could see firm tackle the Asian market
XMA bosses on becoming a 'performance VAR', pocketing £50m of Misco leftovers, and acquisition near-misses
Lee Hemani and Andy Wright reveal that XMA is aiming to boost net profits to three per cent of revenues as they run through the growth ambitions of the UK's ninth-largest reseller