IBM will try to establish a firmer foothold among small businesses when it introduces its first Windows NT-based suite of applications for that market later this month at Comdex.
The upcoming suite, appropriately called the IBM Small Business Suite, is aimed at those shops with between 50 and 250 users. Besides versions of Lotus Domino and the DB/2 Universal Data Base, the package contains new technology in the form of its Integrated Installation Pack (IIP).
The IIP, a capability missing from Microsoft's BackOffice suite, IBM contends, is intended to make it easy for business partners and resellers to download and install customised sets of applications on multiple servers and clients. They must only complete a profile on a central server indicating what combination of applications they want to distribute to any number of remote servers or clients.
They can then go to the customer site and, using even a portable system containing the profile, download to the servers and clients whatever tailored set of applications the profile delineates. The software also installs and properly configures the applications on a server-by-server basis.
"We asked (business partners) what they wanted most, and first, it was to work with a big, brand-name player, and second was installation costs. They did not want to spend all their time doing installations and configurations -- they want to spend more time on value-added tasks,'' said Joel Rubino, senior product marketing manager for IBM's Small Buiness Suite.
Rubino said the Suite gives its business partners and resellers a solid foundation to sell to users who will mix and match a variety of off-the-shelf and internally developed applications for accounting and human resources.
The Small Business Suite compliments the company's Windows NT Enterprise Suite announced this past May. Unlike the Enterprise Suite, however, IBM will not port the Small Business Suite to any other IBM or non-IBM platform, such as IBM AIX, OS/2, or Sun Solaris.
IBM will not sell its suite for small businesses to large departments within Fortune 1000 accounts. In order to do so, it would have to add several enterprise-class capabilities such as LAN-level systems management and backup and recovery features that would weigh the product down.
The Small Business Suite will be sold exclusively through IBM's business partners and resellers and not through its direct sales force.
Users should be able to obtain further information later this month at IBM's Web site.