Looking to bolster its Web hosting and online business efforts, IBM's Global Services unit signed a deal with Catapulse early this week to deliver a variety of tools and services to help Web developers and integrators deliver key e-commerce projects faster.
The alliance, according to officials from both companies, is focused primarily on what they regard as the fastest-growing segment of the software business, e-commerce infrastructure. Market researcher IDC recently reported it expects this segment to grow from $US42 billion in 1999 to $174 billion by 2003.
"Technology adoption, integration and infrastructure maintenance all contribute to project delays that can run three and four months in larger companies, which is unacceptable when you have such compressed delivery time lines," said Dan Schiffman, chief operating officer of Catapulse. "We think hosted delivery models let project teams focus on developing applications instead of managing infrastructures," he said.
Officials from both companies noted that many IT shops are turning to offshore companies to find skilled programming professionals because of an on-going shortage in the US. This is increasingly forcing many development teams to work thousands of miles apart.
The partners claimed that alliances such as the one announced earlier this week provide virtual teams of developers with the ability to create and deploy sometimes complex e-commerce systems on time and close to budget, allowing them to remain competitive in their markets.
"This deal lets our business development, consulting and integration teams engage with users who can then focus the business opportunities they see, and we can leverage the Catapulse hosted development services to pursue such opportunities. This speaks to this need for speed, which is what customers tell us their Internet and e-business development worlds are all about," said Dan Dulayna, IBM's vice president of Global Services for Business Innovation.
The Catapulse service hosts software tools from several vendors and is designed to provide a collaborative framework for systems integrators to transparently work on projects no matter where they are.
IBM officials said they hope to equip the first of their professional development teams with the Catapulse offering sometime in the first half of 2001. The Catapulse service will be available first in the US, but eventually worldwide.