In a conversation Yuval Shavit and I were having with Rado Nikolov, director of strategy and emerging business, ISV & Developer Relations at IBM (try saying that title twice in one breath), something I had intuited finally got a number attached to it. Nikolov said that about 30% of the independent software vendors in IBM’s partner program are <i>also</i> systems integrators.
Software as a service, SOA-based integration of software packages, and the increasingly consultative nature of most software sales are all at least partially responsible for this phenomenon. Nikolov says that few ISVs would have considered themselves to be SIs a few years ago, and few SIs would have added the ISV label to themselves either. But the definition between packaged and “bespoke” software has been eroding for years, and now it’s becoming increasingly difficult to easily divide the roles of ISV and SI.
For its part, IBM is turning to ISVs to do for open-source applications what it had done with VARs for Linux–creating a channel for selling support services, hardware, and potential upgrades to end users. IBM’s latest initiative for business partners using open source gives ISVs and systems integrators access to IBM’s experts for support of its WebSphere Community Edition and DB2 Express-C software, integration testing in IBM’s “innovation centers,” sales assistance, telemarketing for lead generation and other marketing resources to create and sell on top of open-source software. The upside, according to Nikolav, is potential support contract sales for IBM and up-sales to full commercial versions of WebSphere and DB2.