IBM is aiming to more than double its xSeries reseller base in the UK but VARs have expressed dismay at the move.
David Waters, IBM xSeries marketing manager, said: "We currently have about 2,000 business partners in the UK, and as part of our 2005 recruitment drive we want to take on 3,000 more."
Nick King, chief executive of IBM VAR Apex, said: "It's not for me to state whether IBM need more or less resellers.
"However, by taking on 3,000 extra VARs, IBM could create a dilution of the marketplace for concentrated, true-blue resellers. "The market is long overdue for consolidation of resellers and that could benefit IBM more than an increase of its coverage."
Kevin Drew, managing director of VAR and ISV Triangle, agreed. "IBM must understand the difference between quality and quantity. It would achieve more sales if it focused on the quality of VARs. I understand the volume game, but tossing more VARs in will increase competition," he said.
Big Blue is enticing new recruits with the help of a sponsorship deal with IT dealer.com. Walters said the IT dealer.com microsite has been up and running since January, and IBM has already taken on 55 new resellers as a result.
IT dealer.com is an information site where subscribed resellers can access up-to-the-minute information about stock levels from 18 major UK distributors.
Neil Pearson, IT dealer.com's sales and marketing manager, said: "The main benefit of the site is the time and cost saving. Searching is quick and simple, as only part numbers need to be entered and a search can be performed on a component's make and type."
As IT dealer.com is primarily a sourcing tool, resellers must negotiate prices directly with suppliers.
"Maintaining the negotiating mix between resellers and suppliers is one reason the system works so well," said Pearson. "Distributors provide live data without compromising existing reseller relationships."
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