Avnet-IBM Partner Summit: $5 Billion Awaits Vertical VARs

Avnet-IBM Partner Summit: $5 Billion Awaits Vertical VARs

At the Avnet-IBM Partner Summit today, executives described how the two companies together plan to generate $5 billion in sales by 2015. Naturally, the effort will leverage partners and three new vertical market initiatives -- banking, energy and retail. Here are four highlights from today's keynote, delivered by Avnet Senior VP Fred Cuen (pictured).

First, some background. Roughly 800 IBM channel partners and vendors are attending the Avnet-hosted summit in San Antonio, Texas. Fred Cuen, senior VP and GM of IBM Solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions, offered the following key points.

1. Go Vertical: Cuen noted that Avnet is launching SolutionsPaths for banking, retail and energy. Cuen briefly blanked out on the retail mention, before delivering a humorous on-stage recovery. Key takeaway: Cuen sounded like a genuine person who actually cares about IBM partners.

Meanwhile, Tony Vottima, senior VP of solution development and marketing, delivered a deeper dive on the vertical efforts -- EnergyPath, FinancialPath and RetailPath. In the U.S. banking market, there are 8,500 financial institutions and only 60 are considered tier-one direct sales opportunities. The other 8,440 are partner plays, Vottima said.

2. Up, Up and Away: For the first nine months of 2010, Cuen said Avnet's IBM-related sales grew dramatically -- pointing to increasing sales of Power systems (up 3%), System X (up 81%), new software licenses (up 16%) and storage (up 48%). During the same period, government sales hit $217 million and health care sales topped $295 million, Cuen added.

3. Taking Shots At Oracle, HP and Cisco: Cuen noted that Oracle's new strategy -- Hardware, Software, Complete -- sounds familiar. "We'll, other than leaving out services it sounds like a brilliant strategy for me," said Cuen. "In fact, it's been IBM's strategy for more than 15 years." He took similar shots at HP and Cisco.

4. Triple Play: Vottima pointed to additional opportunities in data center, cloud and mobility solutions. The VAR Guy has briefings on all three topics later today.

Now here's the irony: Avnet Technology Solutions also has close working relationships with Oracle, HP and Cisco. So how is Avnet balancing those relationships? More thoughts on that later today.

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