IBM to unwrap Express apps

IBM to unwrap Express apps

IBM will underline its ongoing company wide commitment to small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) when it introduces new versions of DB2, Notes, and Tivoli at its PartnerWorld conference in New Orleans.

The new ''express'' versions of the server-based products contain the core functions necessary for SMBs to effectively run an e-business, as well as make it easier for them to create a range of on-demand computing strategies, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

"These are not the fully featured versions, they include only the stuff that is important for mostly mid-cap companies," one business partner briefed by IBM said.

They were trying to extend out their express brands like they had done with WebSphere, he said.

Last year IBM introduced WebSphere Express, a pared-down version of WebSphere.

At the conference, several top IBM executives would stress the importance of pursuing SM's as part of their respective overall product strategies. They would, include Marc Lautenbach, the General Manager of IBM's SMB group.

With a mandate coming from the highest reaches of IBM management, Big Blue redoubled its efforts over a year ago to pursue opportunities in the SMB markets.

Many analysts agreed that the financial worth of these markets was about $US300 billion a year.

In an interview last year, Lautenbach said all of IBM's product divisions planned to invest about $100 million in marketing efforts alone, just to get its message out. That message was that Big Blue, in concert with its business partners and solution providers, would focus hard on solutions to users both large and small and not on selling individual products.

Lautenbach said that about 60 per cent of market opportunity was driven by solutions spending.

Some analysts thought IBM's redoubled effort to go after the SMB space was well timed given that market had been largely untapped by the top-tier vendors. They also believef many smaller companies needed more comprehensive solutions that a large company like IBM could offer.

"Looking at their Portal and WebSphere Express offerings this is a very natural extension of that, " an analyst at RedMonk consultants, Stephen O'Grady, said. "If you look at the deployments of many small and mid-market customers, they have a hodge-podge of different solutions. I think IBM can help bring some order to that."

O'Grady said some of the Express offerings would be more readily accepted than others, with Tivoli being among the latter.

"For small market customers especially, some of these offerings will be more relevant," O'Grady said. " For example, I do think it is necessary for Tivoli to have an Express offering, but to be frank, with portals and things like that out there, I expect the uptake of the systems management and security stuff to be slower."

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