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What Is an IBM Business Partner, Really?

This question came up this week when discussing upgrading two systems from IBM i 7.3 to 7.5. The word “partner” means a lot to me.

First, what is an IBM Business Partner? Well, that definition can be a little broad. I’d argue that a Business Partner is the liaison between customers and IBM. We represent customers to IBM, and we represent IBM to customers. Business Partners primarily consist of IBM technology experts, hardware resellers, software resellers and ISVs.

The key word in Business Partner is “partner.” The best partnerships have regular, effective communication. At Service Express, we view ourselves as an extension of every customer’s business. There’s value in that line of thinking.

There’s plenty of partner-focused IBM education happening. It seems like a week doesn’t go by that we’re on webinars and conference calls learning about what’s coming down the pike regarding technology and pricing changes, product withdrawals and replacements and the like.

Theory is great, but hands-on practice is even better. Will your Business Partner upgrade you to IBM i 7.4 as their first 7.4 upgrade? Do they have a Power10 in place to test things out? What about new IBM external storage? Or a POWER-based Hardware Management Console?

Ever wonder why your Business Partner calls you every couple of months? No, it’s not to sell you something. We’re checking in to tell you about what’s coming next. It’s to let you know your machine just went end of marketing, so it may only have a few years left. It’s to remind you that 7.4 was released in 2019, and on average, you’ll get seven years out of it; maybe 7.5 would be a good idea in advance.

We want to know about your challenges. We want to ensure you’re getting good service. That relationship is what has the most value for both parties.

Every IBM Business Partner is different. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. A good partner will be honest about what they can and can’t do well. A good partner isn’t afraid to tell you no instead of saying yes and then dancing to figure out a half-baked solution.