<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=522217871302542&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

An Introduction to the Tech Data IBM Business Unit

Dec 22, 2020 5:03:33 AM Neil Cornish IBM, IT Distributor Services, Tech Data Channel Partners

I was recently asked for a summary of the IBM business unit at Tech Data. When pulling this together I realised that many of the other 7000 partners we work with each day at Tech Data probably don’t know how much we cover either.

Despite working with Avnet as my distributor for many years prior to joining Tech Data, I was unaware of the resources and scale that lay behind the amalgamated business. This article is a bit longer than normal, but I hope will provide an insight into our role as a distributor and how we can help both existing and new partners in the IBM community.

Tech Data is a global IT distributor, employing some 14,000 people around the world. EMEA is a significant contributor responsible for 53% of global revenues and employing over 7000 people. Company highlights include 44 years in business as a technology distributor.

Our fiscal 2019 turnover was nearly 37 billion dollars and as you may have seen in the press, the business has recently been acquired by the Apollo Management Group. We are now part of a multi-billion-dollar group of companies with some 60 other well-known businesses across a diverse industry spectrum including Rack Space, ADT, Coinstar and Diamond Resorts. Prior to acquisition Tech Data was ranked 83 in the Fortune 500, placing us somewhere between Coca Cola and American Express.

To be a complete technology distributor in today's current climate you must have end-to-end capability. This means the ability to provide solutions from sensors and devices, infrastructure for cloud and data centre requirements, through to our endpoint solutions and smart meeting offerings that are now part of the modern workplace. And everything now needs a security wrapper that goes around all of these, with services to support our partners in their design, deployment and post-sale.

Within the Tech Data organisation, the IBM business unit is one of the most experienced and well-resourced in Europe. We recognise it is not just about having the best, quickest and most accurate pricing service, but to be able to provide other resources like architecture design, bill of materials consulting, special bid management and post implementation technical support.

We also realise marketing support, access to funds and loan equipment, can make a huge difference to turning leads into customers. And as your business grows, we provide credit lines and a wide range of vendor marketing and incentive programmes.

Our overall objective is to assure you that Tech Data is a business you can count on. It is by combining all the strengths of the Tech Data IBM business unit, along with the investments that we have made at both a global and local level, that enables us to become your trusted advisor and a team you can count on.


The IBM Portfolio

The range of IBM offerings that are available to our channel partners with the associated services and support can be seen in Fig 1.

The IBM Brand offerings include Power, Storage, IBM Software split into Cloud and Analytics, IBM Technical Support Services, TSS, and ESA, which stands for IBM Embedded Solutions Agreement.

Red Hat acquired for $34Bn 12 months ago is now an integral part of IBM’s strategy and of our IBM team.

Then there are the value-added service areas where the IBM Team add value above that directly associated with the products. These are all about our people delivering information, programmes and services every day, the education offered by our Channel Academy and the new introductions and solutions design that comes from our Ecosystem programme.




IBM Power Systems is perfectly positioned as the compute platform specifically architected for your customers’ business-critical processes and operations in a Hybrid cloud world.

IBM Power has been offering capacity on demand (or pay per use) since 2007, and now the whole range of IBM Power Systems from single core machines to the largest 192 core machine, offer functionality which allows customers to optimize their resource utilization and associated costs, and pay by the minute for capacity.

As well as achieving the highest reliability rankings in the ITIC (Information Technology Intelligence Consulting) survey, IBM’s industry leading virtualization technology, PowerVM is still the only hypervisor with zero vulnerabilities reported – ever.

Our unrivalled knowledge of these systems, allowing us to provide customer briefings, sales and technical enablement all the way through to installation, is second to none. Our experts will help you every step of the way – from initial design to physical installation and everything in between.



Digital transformation continues to drive an ever-increasing demand for data availability, security, performance and mobility. Modern workloads based around AI and Big Data dictate the requirement for data to be available and in the right place at all times, to drive data insights for the modern organisation.

IBM Storage today is positioned perfectly to support your customer’s strategy, simplifying Hybrid Multicloud, reducing complexity whilst optimising AI and data performance.

IBM’s software defined storage portfolio is a single product family with true scalability for capacity, performance, resilience and security. Entry level systems with enterprise features right through to enterprise systems that provide seven 9s availability to protect mission critical workloads in some of the world’s largest organisations.

The IBM Storage team at Tech Data are here to support you as an IBM business partner from the moment you make contact and will stay with you all the way through your journey. Our teams of business development managers, product specialists, technical specialists and pre/post sale support functions are here to act as your extended team and support you every step of the way.


Technical Support Services

Extending the longevity of your customer’s equipment and reducing the time and cost of doing so has never been so high on their agenda. In a non-stop world there is growing demand for support 24x7 whilst maintaining security and availability.

Partnering with Tech Data and IBM allows you to simplify technology support with just one vendor to manage all enterprise hardware and software support, no matter the equipment manufacturer or geography.

IBM Technology Support Services (TSS) provide proactive, reactive, onsite and remote IT support for over 30,000 IBM AND non-IBM devices. IBM’s global partnerships with leading networking, security and software providers mean TSS can help simplify IT support management by streamlining multiple contracts, reducing complexity and the overall cost, with a single source IT support contract, available 365 days a year.

Tech Data’s dedicated, specialist team hold over 30+ years’ experience in IBM maintenance. The team will guide you through the renewals process, ensuring you are maximising every opportunity by incorporating warranty uplift, End of Support, brand drop offs and extended support. As well as this, the team will work with you to ensure that all new kit purchased has maintenance and proactive services attached, whilst engaging with IBM pricing teams to get the most competitive pricing.


Analytics and Cognitive

Whether you have an existing data and analytics practice, an industry focus or a broader focus on solving business problems for your customers, Tech Data’s specialists are perfectly positioned to support your business to harness the power of analytics.

To help you deploy the latest data and analytics technology in order to drive better business outcomes for your customers, Tech Data offers a range of hardware, software and services that when combined, build innovative IT solutions. Spanning everything from data governance and visual dashboards to the more advanced IoT and cognitive computing solutions, Tech Data can give you access to a wide variety of IBM Analytics solutions, the proven underpinning technologies and a broad eco-system of partners.

With the new IBM Cloud Pak™ for Data System, Tech Data is in a unique position to support its business partners to capture these opportunities. IBM Cloud Pak™ for Data is a fully integrated data and AI platform that modernises how businesses collect, organise and analyze data and infuse AI throughout their organizations. Built on the Red Hat® OpenShift®, IBM Cloud Pak for Data integrates market leading IBM Watson® AI technology with IBM Hybrid Data Management Platform, data ops and governance, and business analytics technologies.

An IBM Cloud Pak™ for Data System “appliance” with IBM Performance Server has been installed at Tech Data’s UK premises, making Tech Data the first European Distributor to have this capability available for their business partners.

This system will support business partner engagements with a number of free and chargeable services including POC’s, education, customer migration and bespoke managed services.


Hybrid Cloud

The IBM Hybrid Cloud portfolio, encompassing both modernized traditional IBM software solutions and new, marketing-leading additions which underpin the entirety of the IBM go to market strategy.

Utilising OpenShift as the platform, IBM now supports open-standards, cloud agnostic ‘run anywhere’ solutions. IBM has become the glue, connecting public, private and hybrid cloud environments with the ability to integrate, govern and monitor any environment.

The IBM product strategy is orientated towards the simplified Cloud Pak model. Cloud Paks are modernized, micro-services-based pre-built applications of both traditional and new solutions underpinning the hybrid cloud strategy.

There are currently 6 Cloud Paks which cover the software portfolio – Integration, Applications, Automation, Multicloud Management, Security and Data. While the functionality of each is different and addresses different business objectives, they are uniformly developed in the same way, and offer extended functionality and usability over their legacy predecessors and afford faster time to value.

Tech Data has a long heritage in the hybrid cloud product suite from licensing and technical and sales support to offering sandbox POC environments. As partners and customers work their way towards business and digital transformation, Tech Data will help you achieve your objectives through our expert understanding of the market, solutions and vendor, our access to market and comprehensive skills.


Red Hat

Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of open source solutions.

“Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance and the part that most computer users don't ever see; it's the code computer programmers can manipulate to change how a piece of software— so a "program" or "application"—works.”

The Open Source Community consists of 16 million developers working on 1million+ projects.

Red Hat takes these projects and their code and puts a “support wrap” around them to harden security, fix bugs, patch vulnerabilities, and add new features. They then contribute these improvements back to each project so the entire open source community can benefit. These “support” wraps are sold as annual subscriptions.

The subscription model means there are no large upfront licensing costs as there are with other vendors – there is just an annual subscription fee which provides customers access to patches, bug fixes, updates and upgrades, 24/7 technical support, access to Red Hats knowledgebase and customer portal labs.

As customers’ needs for the ability to deliver cloud-ready applications accelerate, so does the need for automation to allow teams to work to their full potential.

Red Hat with their Cloud-native development solutions allow customers to take advantage of the cloud - using containers, Dev Ops methodology and agile techniques to allow developers to develop, deliver and adapt to change faster. Red Hat helps support this journey with OpenShift, a cloud-native container development platform.

Automation allows customers IT teams to move away from manually updating, integrating data and maintaining compliance and security. Automation allows customers to make the most of their teams and technology to keep up with demands and respond to changes quicker. Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, allows customers to create, scale, and engage automation across the entire organization.

Customers have so many infrastructure options and technical limitations shouldn’t impact their efficiency. Red Hat’s Hybrid Cloud solutions allow customers to run their applications across multiple environments, on premise and in multiple clouds based on what works best for that specific application.

Together, with Red Hat Linux, OpenShift and Ansible, Red Hat technologies provide customers the agility and portability required for IT to deliver services faster.

Tech Data can provide building blocks for technical success by providing our partners access to our technical community, our OpenShift and Ansible Demonstration Environments and access to our business solutions centre, which is all free to use for customer demos and POC’s. We can help partners with building incremental pipeline through access to marketing development funding, access to our industry ecosystems and our Business Development Teams.

Red Hats OPEN Portal (which is an acronym for Online Partner Enablement Network) provides partners access to a huge range of role-based and technology-focused complementary training. There are multiple ways to train, such as self-paced online and self-paced with lab, video, and classroom training.



The embedded solution agreement – commonly referred to as ESA is used when partners are looking to integrate IBM software or appliances into their wider solution.

At Tech Data we have over 100+ active ESA partners successfully selling their solution with IBM technology as an integrated component. Tech Data has a long history of providing support to our ESA partners, we can help design, develop, and execute what the partner needs against the foundation of knowledge gained over many years. ESA is becoming ever more popular as clients move towards consuming technology from service providers rather than the traditional in-house development. Nearly all of the IBM products can be embedded, with just a few exclusions.

The nature of the contract ensures that the IBM software is an integrated component and supported by the solution provider. The main difference between passport advantage and ESA relates specifically to the ownership of the license, under ESA the solution provider owns the entitlement to the software – and there are many benefits in doing so. The program is suited to ISV’s, MSPs and Systems Integrators who want to leverage IBM's cutting-edge technology.

The enrolment process requires the partner to demonstrate to IBM that there is a Value-Added Component to their solution, this can expand the functionality of the application, improve the user experience or optimize the solution for specific industries. There is also an enrolment option for Service Provider and MSP’s who want to use IBM software as part of a managed service.

We also have a number of knowledge experts in the organization who can assist in developing the ESA solution from either a Sales or Technical perspective. IBM have a marketing program, managed via Tech Data which helps support ESA Partners. This can help promote the solution or illustrate client success stories. This programme is offered to partners once they have transacted over a threshold of $10,000. The programme provides 50/50 funding helping partners extend their marketing reach.

We can help support the partner at every stage of the process to ensure that the solution and the commercial contract is fit for purpose. Creating an embedded solution gives the partner fixed, predicable costs and a pricing model that aligns to how their downstream clients want to purchase.


Tech Data’s Ecosystem Engagement Programme

Regular blog readers will be aware of our Ecosystem activities and how we are trying to add value back into the Channel.

As technology has become increasingly commoditized in recent years, so has the pressure on margins. The traditional route to market of vendor to distributor to reseller to client, has resulted in the erosion of margins for each party. That, in turn, means less funding for reinvestment, compounding the challenges faced by each part in creating new value.

Another factor in this increasing commoditization is that end user customers often find themselves sourcing technology and solutions from multiple vendors; a costly and often complex proposition. Add to that the fact that smaller players and start-ups, who may have a valuable contribution to make, don’t have the presence or reach of larger providers, are often overlooked. Think of the cartoon with the machine gun seller being ignored, whilst the battle with bows and arrows plays out.

We recognized that if we could address these interconnected challenges, we could help our partners to maximize their combined impact through collaboration and at the same time help them to create a more profitable way of going to market plus a better end user experience.

We have been running our Ecosystem Program now for nearly two years. The premise is simple; ecosystems are about relationships. We have created a structured program of events where partners can get together and explore ideas and opportunities themed around a specific topic or industry. Our initial focus was healthcare, but we have since expanded into manufacturing, retail and the particular challenges of returning to work under COVID-19. More recently, recognizing the broad range of skills and technology required to deliver hybrid cloud solutions, we have created a Red Hat Ecosystem too.

We encourage partners to collaborate and create solutions which combine best of breed offerings from specialists and innovators from across the ecosystem. It also works as a seek and find service for larger partners to find offerings within the ecosystem. The end result is a ready-made, trusted solution for the customer and reduced pressure on margins for every player in the value chain.

We have had over 600 delegates participate at our events this year with over 60 different presenters including partners, customers, IBMers and industry leaders. The program has taken on a tremendous momentum and really thrived during the move to digital engagement.

For more information on the Ecosystem Programme or to find out more about any of the IBM products and related Tech Data services please get in touch. We can run briefings for your teams, your customers and your prospects. We look forward to working with you in 2021.



Neil Cornish

Written by Neil Cornish

Neil Cornish is Business Development Manager at Tech Data UK


see all