IBM on Monday unwrapped what the company claims are the first all-wireless lines of products and services intended to help IT shops both large and small extend their e-business strategies in meaningful ways out to their mobile users.
To better ensure the new products and services gain traction in the market, IBM has extended its existing deal with Arthur Andersen, which will help Big Blue deliver and integrate a variety of wireless-based solutions to enterprise-level users.
Under the agreement, Arthur Andersen will educate 3,000 new business consultants on a wide range of IBM hardware, software, and communications technologies, enabling them to build solutions that can be customised and used by different users.
As part of the new deal, Arthur Andersen will work specifically with IBM's Websphere Everyplace Suite and Lotus Domino Everyplace to develop a range of mobile e-business solutions for messaging and collaboration, CRM (customer relationship management), supply-chain management, and business-to-business marketplace.
On the product side of Monday's announcement, IBM extended its wireless capabilities across both its ThinkPad and WorkPad lines of systems. Through IBM Research, the company has created a new dual antenna design that places the antenna in the screen to provide the portable units with integrated support for 802-11 wireless LANs.
Big Blue also unwrapped two thin WorkPad models, including the company's first handheld units featuring a color display. The latter unit is based on the Palm Computing platform.
On the server side, IBM also announced new wireless capabilities for its eServer line. The new Wireless Remote Management technology lets systems administrators wirelessly control remote servers using common and portable devices such as a phone with Internet connections or a PDA.
IBM also unwrapped a series its Wireless Infrastructure Services described by company officials on Monday as the "instant wireless LAN," a service that helps companies more quickly get up-and-running wireless facilities. The service will be a bundled hardware-software-installation package.
"[With] the instant wireless LAN, whether you are a small company or large company, we can do a two-day engagement for users where we help pull together all the pieces they need for a wireless solution and then integrate it for them quickly and cheaply," said Val Romani, general manager of IBM's Global Wireless Solutions.
In a fourth announcement, IBM and with Mitsubishi Electric are creating low-power microchips for third-generation cell phones. The new chips, to be manufactured by IBM, will be developed using Big Blue's silicon germanium communications chip technology.
Mitsubishi officials on Monday said they plan to use the chips in an upcoming series of cellular products.
Again emphasizing its dependence on its business partners, IBM announced its Wireless Business Partners initiative. The initiative is a series of programs intended to help bring products to market through IBM's 90,000 business partners.
"Business partners for IBM are not something off to the side or an afterthought. They are very a party of everything we do," said Peter Rowley, IBM's general manager of global business partners. "Last year fully one-third of IBM's business, or $US28 billion, was driven through our partners. That's a figure that has doubled in the last three years."
As part of Monday's announcement, IBM said it has signed up new customers using different combinations of wireless products including the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas and HypoVereinsbank, Germany's second largest bank.
The Venetian Hotel is now piloting a wireless check-in for guests, centered around IBM's iServer systems and designed to eliminate the need to wait in long lines to get room assignments and credit authorizations.
HypoVereinsbank is developing a Linux-based system management concept centered around IBM's eServer z900 mainframes, which will continuously monitor systems availability using WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and PDAs to ensure systems uptime around the clock.