Hoping to stall some of the momentum of archrival BEA Systems among small to midsize end-user companies, IBM on has announced it is bundling its Websphere Application Server with its iSeries of servers.
The new bundle, called the IBM eServer iSeries Powered By Websphere, is pre-loaded with Version 4 of Websphere and the company's series of Websphere application development tools. Offered optionally are a number of services available including custom installation, consulting, and application design and prototyping.
"We are narrowing that part of the apps server market that BEA has been doing well in. By riding the popularity of the iSeries in the small to midsize markets, we have a better chance to take away a chunk of business from [BEA]," said Scott Hebner, director, market management for IBM's Websphere and Application Tools group.
Some analysts believe the bundle does enhance IBM's chances at the lower end because it brings together a number of IBM's strengths.
"The advantage IBM has is it can offer a complete solution that can be put up and ready to go. Given that lots of people in the mid-markets are a little reticent these days to spend time and money on e-business projects, anything IBM can do to deliver more turnkey solutions will be to their advantage," said Michelle Rosen, research manager at IDC.
Although Rosen says IBM has gained significant market share in the Web applications server market from 1998 to 2000, its momentum has slowed over the first half of 2001.
"Over the past two years IBM has gained share like gangbusters against BEA, but the numbers I see most recently say they are not taking share away like they were," Rosen said.
Increasingly during the past year, Web application servers are becoming more of a commodity with many second-tier vendors significantly lowering their prices. Rosen believes this commoditisation makes them more attractive to the small to midsize accounts that IBM and BEA are hotly pursuing.
"The fact the prices are coming down and dropping under the radar of higher end IT guys and down more to department solutions will attract more departments than enterprises," Rosen said.
IBM officials believe the IT opportunity in the small to midsize accounts is more than $US300 billion a year. They expect that market to represent about 52 per cent of the total worldwide server market by 2004.
The version of Websphere for the iSeries also features a new installation wizard making it easier to configure the application server software.
IBM officials hope the iSeries ability to support Windows, Linux and Java-based applications and its ability to support multiple virtual servers from a single location will make the system appealing to smaller accounts.
"We see a lot of small to midsize accounts moving from a simple Web presence to conducting e-business transactions using the Web. We think this offering gives them a simple and more affordable way to do that," said Sandy Carter, vice president of IBM's marketing and channel strategy.