IBM Reinvents Partnerworld – Ravages the Partner Ecosystem

Posted by Kim May on August 2, 2017 under Baltimore Washington DB2 Users Group, DB2 Gold Consultants, Frank Fillmore, IBM Champion, IBM DB2 Services, IBM Information Management Software Sales, IBM Training Services Delivery Partner, TFG Blog.

I just received an email from IBM’s Partnerworld program notifying me that as of August 1, 2017, The Fillmore Group, after ten years as a Premier IBM Business Partner (the highest program level), is now officially a Registered Business Partner, the lowest level in the program.

We still have a team of expert consultants.  We are still authorized to deliver most IBM courses in the Analytics brand family curriculum.  We are still actively promoting, influencing and reselling IBM Analytics solutions.  I am still Chair of the Baltimore/Washington DB2 Users Group and an IBM Champion.  Frank is still a Gold Consultant.  Several of our consultants are IBM Champions and Golds.  IBM simply won’t programmatically acknowledge that our skills have value any longer.

IBM claims to value partners with skills, but by they are lying.  The truth is the two factors determining partner level in the new Partnerworld system are software sales and customer references. 

Is it a coincidence that IBM is struggling with sales (21 straight quarters of declining revenues) and the company has historically been terrible at getting customer references?  Sadly, great technology followed by poor quality and expensive implementations and enablement support don’t add up to gushy customer success stories.

In the new program, without sales of $1,000,000 or more in a single product family a Business Partner cannot be granted a product “Competency” designation – no matter how many times they have implemented a solution, how many customers they have trained, and/or how many presentations and webinars they have delivered to help current and prospective customers understand the value of IBM’s solutions.

In the new IBM world, that’s not “competency”.

So like many of IBM’s “reinvention” efforts over the past five years, the “new” Partnerworld program is essentially the same old program, with new, onerous requirements designed to eliminate specialty partners (like The Fillmore Group) and I suppose reduce IBM’s burden of managing their partner network.

Because like who needs an extensive network of partners promoting an incredibly complex portfolio of products and solutions??  Heck, why not just funnel business to a handful of partner organizations and keep things simple.  Maybe reduce channel support headcount by 10 or 15 people.  Woohoo.  Think small.

After I received the email notifying me of our program level demotion I tried to log in to Partnerworld to review the program offerings for our new, low level.  And like so many things in today’s IBM world, the response was sad, heartbreaking and terribly frustrating – apparently they can’t keep the program website up.  Need a high availability solution???

 

 

Tealeaf Fatigue

Posted by Kim May on July 10, 2017 under Authorized Training Partner, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/OS, Global Skills Initiative, IBM Information Management Software Sales, TFG Blog.

I have been reviewing our first half of 2017 and trying to get a handle on where our DB2 world is headed in the second half of this confusing year.  Frankly, I’m baffled!  While the year started on a positive note with IBM’s acknowledgement that they needed to re-engage and support their existing DB2 customers, and the positive trend continued with the announcement of the super-aggressive DB2 pricing available via the Oracle Attack, I still find that at mid-year the good outcomes I expected are failing to materialize.  How come?

In my opinion, one reason is a result of IBM’s “re-invention” of their Business Partner program.  As a long-time IBM Business Partner, our team invests an incredible amount of time and energy maintaining our “Premier Partner” status, primarily through certifications that validate our skills.  When IBM rolled out the new partner program in 2017 their messaging indicated a new focus on highly-skilled, knowledgeable partners.  Unfortunately, in reality, the program modifications boiled down to two new criteria:  1) customer references and 2) meeting high volume IBM software sales targets.  To IBM, these make perfect sense: IBM struggles to get customer references, and with rolling sales staff reductions, IBM needs to beef up their sales partners.

However, the “Give it to Mikey, he’ll eat anything” approach may not be working.  Partners like The Fillmore Group are being marginalized (“Skills?  Who needs ’em?”) by the program, while high volume partners (like HP, oh, oops, not any more) are being funneled territories, “uncovered” customers and leads.

In my opinion, the fallout is likely to be similar to the Global Skills Initiative, IBM’s education program “re-invention” from a few years ago that resulted in far fewer DB2 classes and fewer available training options as the program created a layer of 5 large, competing training partners who function independently and whose lack of coordination splintered the IBM training business.

Is this what IBM is – unintentionally/intentionally? – planning for their partner community?  I don’t know, but it’s unsettling.  One bright note:  the new partner levels were scheduled to go into effect June 30th, but have been pushed back to the end of July.  Perhaps sanity prevails??

My final head scratcher is the annual IOD/Insight/World of Watson/no, not this year conference.  I received an email this morning about the LearnQuest-sponsored Analytics conference scheduled for New Orleans in October.  I’ve also heard about a DB2 Conference being planned for Boston in – October, as well.  On one hand I think any conference and opportunity to network is good.  On the other hand, I am wondering if the conflict is quietly announcing the final split between DB2 for z/OS and DB2 for LUW.

Or I suppose that should be (another brilliant re-invention), Db2 for z/OS and Db2 for LUW…!!

 

Webinar: Oracle Renewal Looming? Consider DB2!

Posted by Kim May on March 13, 2017 under BLU Acceleration, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/Linux, DB2 Gold Consultants, DB2 Migrations, Frank Fillmore, HTAP, IBM Champion, IBM DB2 Services, IBM Information Management Software Sales, Oracle, pureScale, TFG Blog.

The Fillmore Group is inviting organizations frustrated with rising Oracle costs to join us for a webinar focusing on the two primary motivations behind DB2 migrations: cost and functionality. Session attendees will perform a self-analysis to compare similar version license costs, and gain an understanding of the technical features included in DB2 for on-premise use – BLU, pureScale, and the Data Partitioning Feature – as well as a brief overview of cloud deployment and SaaS options.

Date:   Thursday, April 6th

Time:  11:00am – 12:00pm EDT

The session also includes an overview of the migration process, as anyone considering a move needs to understand the time and effort involved.

Sound boring? It won’t be! The session will be delivered by IBM Champions Frank Fillmore and Kim May. Frank has participated in IBM’s annual “Break Free Forum” and Kim has worked with several Oracle customers exploring migrations to DB2. We understand this is a complicated comparison but will do our best to make the session entertaining without including too much Oracle bashing. But maybe a bit.

Registration is required to attend. Register HERE.

Thank you Governor Hogan!

Posted by Kim May on February 9, 2017 under DB2 for z/Linux, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Migrations, IBM Information Management Software Sales, IDAA, Mako, Netezza, TFG Blog.

When I started working for The Fillmore Group over ten years ago, the world of DB2 was far different.  The State of Maryland had probably over a dozen IBM mainframes running state government agencies.  We occasionally delivered training and support, but often struggled with the procurement processes, as we weren’t an approved vendor.

As I learned, the master vendor list for IT vendors to the State of Maryland adds new vendors only once every 8 to 10 years, as the qualification process (we are talking government here!) is onerous and terribly time consuming for all involved.  So I waited and finally this past year it was time again for open enrollment.  The qualification process WAS onerous and time consuming and required the assistance of Maryland Governor Hogan’s office to make the insurance requirements attainable for small businesses like The Fillmore Group.

Many thanks Governor Hogan!  Today The Fillmore Group received the fully executed contract to deliver IT services to the State of Maryland.   There aren’t as many mainframes as there were ten years ago and efforts have been underway to consolidate their workloads, but we can help.  I think a private cloud running System z with a couple shared IDAA’s would be cost effective, efficient, and modern.  Can’t wait to get started!

Webinar: DB2 Server for VSE&VM: Modernization Roadmap

Posted by Kim May on November 10, 2016 under DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for VSE&VM, DB2 for z/Linux, DB2 Gold Consultants, DB2 Stars, Frank Fillmore, IBM DB2 Services, IBM Information Management Software Sales, TFG Blog.

If you are one of the remaining DB2 Server for VSE&VM customers you are invited to join us for a free webinar Thursday, December 1st.

DB2 Server for VSE&VM:  Modernization Options

Date and Time: Thursday, December 1, 2017, 11:00am – 12:00pm EST

Register HERE

Abstract
As an organization running DB2 Server for VSE&VM you probably knew it was time to modernize when – five years ago? Maybe ten? But it ran fine and the applications do what you need them to do, so it wasn’t a priority.

Unfortunately, nowadays skilled resources are getting harder to find and the technology is out of date. It’s not going to get easier to change.

It’s time to get started on the path to a modern database. Join us for a free webinar where DB2 Gold Consultant Frank C. Fillmore, Jr., will explain how organizations running legacy VM and VSE applications can protect their investment in custom business applications, while expanding their database technical capabilities with DB2 for z/Linux.

Takeaways:

  • Technical advantages of DB2 for z/Linux
  • Distributed Relational Database Architecture (DRDA) access to DB2 for z/Linux from VSE and VM applications:
    • CICS
    • z/VSE batch
    • z/VM
  • Simplify mid-tier applications currently using DB2 Connect
  • Exploiting Hipersockets
  • VSE VSAM Redirector eBusiness Connector
  • Software cost savings (amazing!!)
  • Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL)

About the Presenter

DB2 Gold Consultant Frank Fillmore has been working with IBM z Systems customers throughout his 30 year career in Information Technology. Frank manages a team of consultants at The Fillmore Group who deliver expert DB2 technical services, staff augmentation, and IBM authorized education.  Frank is also an IBM Champion.

IBM Q Replication: Frank’s Field Notes, Summer ‘16

Posted by Kim May on June 21, 2016 under DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Gold Consultants, DB2 Migrations, Frank Fillmore, IBM Champion, IBM DB2 Services, IBM Information Management Software Sales, IDAA, InfoSphere, Netezza, Oracle, Q-Replication, TFG Blog.

Please join us Thursday, July 28th, from 11am-12pm EDT for a free webinar with an update on IBM’s Q Replication.

Having worked with Q Replication customers since 2006, DB2 Gold Consultant and IBM Champion Frank Fillmore has collected useful tips and techniques for Q Replication implementation and administration. Join Frank as he shares his notes and thoughts on the topics below and delivers a mid-2016 checkpoint on the evolving IBM InfoSphere Data Replication (IIDR) product development roadmap.

In this session Frank will cover the topics below.  Please register for the session here.

  1. Cold Start a Q Replication topology.
    1. When and why would you need to consider a Cold Start.
    2. What are the steps?
  2. Oracle Native Q Apply – replication directly to an Oracle database (including RAC and Exadata).
    1. Comparison to Federated Apply.
    2. Co-existence and migration.
  3. Tooling – what tool do I use when?
    1. Q Replication Dashboard.
    2. ASNMON.
    3. Replication Center.
    4. ASNCLP.
  4. ASNCONSUMER – used to replicate to PureData System for Analytics (Netezza).
  5. Pricing models.

About Frank Fillmore:

DB2 Gold Consultant and IBM Champion Frank C. Fillmore, Jr. is the Founder and President of The Fillmore Group, Inc., a Premier IBM Business Partner that specializes in IBM Analytics software sales, consulting, and training.  Frank has been providing IBM database-oriented solutions to government, industry, and not-for-profit enterprises as varied as The World Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase, Northrop Grumman, and the FBI for over 29 years.  Frank’s current practice centers on Hybrid Transaction and Analytic Processing (HTAP) and Oracle to DB2 migrations as well as information governance and integration.  Frank kayaks and cheers for the Baltimore Orioles.

 

 

How Succeed with #IBM in 2016 – Ideas???

Posted by Kim May on June 16, 2016 under Authorized Training Partner, DB2 Education, Global Skills Initiative, IBM Information Management Software Sales, IDAA, TFG Blog.

Working for an IBM Business Partner organization is not easy and seems to be getting harder each year. Factor in IBM’s continuing (or accelerating?) decline in sales, and figuring out how to be a successful is really tough.

When I started with The Fillmore Group ten years ago the company had a great reputation for IBM data management training and consulting services. I persuaded Frank Fillmore to add software reselling to the mix assuming, as I was new and coming from the Microsoft world (essentially run by partners), that customers needing technical services and training logically needed to buy something. Also, I had this radical concept drilled into my head while working for Microsoft partners: customers prefer to buy from the organization that can help them be most successful with what they buy.

I’m glad I suggested reselling as over time our other business units’ profitability has shifted. The IBM authorized training business fell into a cycle of declining revenues blamed on post 9/11 travel fears. In 2013 IBM gave up on training and outsourced all public authorized education via the (spin of the century!) Global Skills Initiative. In the three years since the Global Skills Initiative announcement our classroom has never again been used for an IBM public training class.

Delivering consulting services as a subcontractor to IBM Lab Services was, for a long time, a true “win-win” as we provided a variable resource – great consultants – to IBM on an “as-needed” basis, while the IBM business helped support our direct customer business and growing the shared pool of highly skilled consultants. Unfortunately, a 2008 management change at IBM shifted the focus to lower skilled, lower cost resources, and moved our team to the “only call on Christmas Eve” supplier list. Over the course of four years the number of hours our consultants worked for IBM Lab Services dropped by 50% year-over-year until dwindling to less than 200 hours per year over the past 3 years.

As for reselling, ten years after I worked through the paperwork to qualify our team of technical experts to resell IBM software, I still cringe when I hear IBM sales organizations use the terms “incumbent partner” and “fulfillment partner”. This is how IBM describes Business Partner organizations whose understanding of the products they sell is so limited the only reason IBM funnels leads to them (which they do), is that they sold something to someone one time and/or they have the ability to prepare a sales quote with (one hopes) the correct part number.

On the bright side, in 2006 IBM recognized their reseller partners’ typical lack of technical expertise and created a program to try to introduce customers to partners who know more than just part numbers – by offering an incentive to the partners with technical skills outside of the actual purchase transaction.  IBM introduced another layer of compensation for selling IBM solutions, the Software Value Incentive (SVI) program, which enables Business Partners who are not being funneled leads, but who demonstrate that they actually help customers understand and justify their IBM solution purchases, to receive payment for their efforts. Not as much perhaps, as the partner who “got the lead” and became the “fulfillment partner”, but something. The SVI program process is similar in efficiency and simplicity to a NASA rocket launch, but provides enough revenue to justify the effort of engagement and selling (even when you know someone else is getting more!)

In 2014 The Fillmore Group ran a campaign for a solution IBM was struggling to sell – the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA). We love the IDAA and understand its value. We have people who can write training curriculum and present. We do lots of IBM promotion via webinars and outreach. It made sense to combine these; we built a free IDAA class and delivered it in our backyard, Baltimore. We had 18 people attend, including 3 IBM technical reps as “students”. Four of the customer organizations in the class purchased IDAA’s before year end. We didn’t sell any directly to customers as there were other IBM purchasing vehicles in place and incumbent/reseller partners. However, we were awarded SVI for our efforts and made some money.

It was like, “Magoo! You’ve done it again!”

But now, in 2016, the IBM teams are struggling. IBM has cut staff and everyone is worried their sales will continue to fall as the company tries to redirect their focus to cloud solutions. IBM sellers are less apt than ever to “risk” introducing their customers to Business Partners.  The Fillmore Group has scheduled and cancelled two IDAA classes so far this year.  The one lead we were passed by IBM was for a customer who was upset with a grossly inflated quote received from their local IBM team.

What can I do to help The Fillmore Group, my IBM colleagues, and our mutual customers be successful with our solutions in 2016?  Any ideas?  I’d love some feedback.

Chicago IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) Class – Seats Still Available!

Posted by Kim May on May 17, 2016 under DB2 Education, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Gold Consultants, Frank Fillmore, HTAP, IBM Information Management Software Sales, IDAA, Mako, Netezza.

There are still seats available for the June 6th and 7th *FREE* hands-on IDAA training class, scheduled for delivery in the IBM Chicago offices.  DB2 Gold Consultant Frank Fillmore will be delivering this class.  Frank has delivered this class several times and the feedback has been consistently positive, as the class helps customers understand the broad range of deployment options and use cases, as well as how it works.

If you are interested in joining us please review the course outline and register HERE.  Please note:  this class is available to prospective IDAA customers only and registration is required.  If you have any questions on the course content or logistics, please contact Kim May.  I hope to see you in Chicago!

 

*FREE* IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) Hands-on Training

Posted by Kim May on April 26, 2016 under Authorized Training Partner, DB2 Education, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Gold Consultants, Frank Fillmore, HTAP, IBM Champion, IBM DB2 Services, IBM Information Management Software Sales, IBM Smart Analytics System, IDAA, Mako, Netezza, TFG Blog.

DB2 Gold Consultant Frank Fillmore will deliver a free, hands-on IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) class at the IBM offices in Chicago at 71 South Wacker Drive on Monday and Tuesday, June 6th and 7th.  The course outline and registration link are HERE.   The Welcome Packet with travel and lodging recommendations will be sent once the registration is accepted.

Class is free, however students are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses.  The Fillmore Group will provide breakfast and lunch each day to students in class.

The IDAA is a high-performance appliance that integrates IBM Netezza and zEnterprise technologies. The solution delivers extremely fast results for complex and data-intensive DB2 queries on data warehousing, business intelligence and analytic workloads.  You can:

– Query data at high speeds-to significantly improve response times for unpredictable, complex and long-running query workloads.

– Extend the capabilities of DB2 for z/OS-to support a cost-effective analytics solution for data warehousing, business intelligence and predictive analytics.

– Lower operating costs-by reducing System z disk requirements and offloading query workloads to a high-performance platform.

Please note:  this class is offered exclusively to IBM z Systems customers considering an IDAA purchase.  Registration is required.

I hope you will join us and learn more about the IDAA! If you have any questions on the class, please feel free to contact me at kim.may@thefillmoregroup.com.

DB2 101 Event – 8 Seats Still Available!

Posted by Kim May on April 8, 2016 under Big Data, BLU Acceleration, DB2 Connect, DB2 Education, DB2 for Linux Unix Windows, DB2 for z/OS, DB2 Gold Consultants, Federation, Frank Fillmore, Hadoop, HTAP, IBM Champion, IBM DB2 Services, IBM Information Management Software Sales, IBM Mid Market Customers, IBM Pure Systems, IDAA, InfoSphere, Mako, Netezza, Optim, pureScale, Q-Replication, TFG Blog.

Frank and I attended an IBM Business Partner event in Philadelphia earlier this week where we met with several IBM’ers supporting Business Partner initiatives in 2016.  Each of the specialists presented their “best of” solutions to the partners in attendance, and then patiently answered our many questions (mostly mine – sorry team!)

The final preparations for our Woodberry Kitchen lunch event are underway:   Frank and I are polishing the presentation, IBM’s Andrew Levine and Warren Heising are tracking down answers to my Cloud deployment “what if?” questions, Megan is gathering gold coins for attendees who ask Frank good technical questions, and Jolanta at Woodberry Kitchen has me salivating with her menu recommendations.

If you will be in Baltimore April 21st and haven’t registered yet, please do!  Register HERE.