IBM plans to use the channel to become number one in the storage market after almost catching up with leader Compaq last year.
Denise Buonaiuto, vice president of Storage Business Partner Sales at IBM, said market share was exceeding expectation and that the firm was "looking for more participation from the channel".
She said the company had made a mistake in leaving storage but had now bounced back to being number two in the market.
"We lost our way and now we are back because we believe that there is huge opportunity and we want to capitalise on that opportunity," said Buonaiuto.
She added that once back in storage she knew that IBM could not compete effectively on a direct basis and the only way to capture market share was through the channel. Partners were "going to be very important to us in gaining a leadership position in the storage business".
Two years ago, 35 per cent of IBM's storage business was done through the channel. This has since risen to 52 per cent in the last 12 months.
Buonaiuto now plans to move this figure to 56 per cent. According to a report by Gartner Dataquest, IBM gained six per cent market share in the indirect storage market worldwide last year, moving the firm into second place behind Compaq. The latter lost one per cent, putting IBM within six percentage points of the leader.
Mike Thompson, principle analyst at Butler Group, said that the merger of Compaq and HP meant that IBM would have a tough time reaching the number one spot without more involvement from the channel.
"The HP-Compaq 'merger' has pretty much settled positions for the short to mid-term," said Thompson. "To catch up in that market it will have to be done through the channel."
Buonaiuto said the channel would remain the main method of selling storage. "For the foreseeable future we are going to be very consistent in our strategy and partners are going to continue to be primary route to market for us," she said.
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