IBM, Cirque du Soleil in Services, Marketing Pact

Circus arts and entertainment company Cirque du Soleil and IBM have signed a unique three-year pact in which Big Blue will be the company’s worldwide information technology sponsor through 2005.

The marketing arrangement is the first of its kind for the renowned performing company, and the first entertainment pact for IBM since 1998 when it was the technology partner for New York’s Tony Awards.

The deal calls for IBM to consult with Cirque du Soleil in order to develop and introduce new IT services to the company’s network, which spans the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe.

Tops on that list, a spokesperson for Cirque du Soleil said, will be to improve wireless technologies to help traveling troupes improve communications among its many far-flung performance locales.

No financial details of IBM’s sponsorship were released, but a spokesperson said they include swapping services, including performances by Cirque du Soleil groups at IBM’s business-to-business events.

In return, IBM’s Global Services group is to launch a wireless infrastructure pilot program, which will be focused on standard personal information management functions such as e-mail and calendaring.

The program is also a win for IBM’s own in-house SameTime Instant Messaging client, which Cirque du Soleil plans to deploy in order to enhance messaging collaboration at each location and between traveling troupes. The deal also calls for IBM to provide digital content management consulting.

Another goal in the arrangement calls for the two companies to build a relationship with IBM’s Business Continuity and Recovery Services, which will be handled out of the performing company’s main offices in Toronto and Montreal. IBM also plans to install a Storage Area Network (SAN) for the company’s enterprise networks as part of its sponsorship.

The pact is a chance to upgrade the company’s infrastructure, said Renee-Claude Menard of Cirque du Soleil , while IBM gets to add some pizzazz to its own events.

“I think it’s a great match,” she said, “and it will be a fun time for both of us.”