SOMERS, N.Y. — IBM Corp. rolled out more pieces of its Express line of applications this week, part of its expanding strategy to attract partners and integrators to develop solutions for mid-sized businesses with Big Blue’s products.

“”We’re

really looking for a lot of partners,’ said Michael Hanney, IBM’s vice-president of ISV (independent software vendor) alliances, told reporters at day-long briefing here outlining new products, services and support to lure resellers.

Like many information technology companies, IBM believes medium and small companies will be the biggest IT spenders in the next few years. IBM’s way of getting a piece of that spending is by convincing ISVs to put its products into their applications. It’s focussing on mid-sized users, which it defines as having from 100 to 1,000 employees.

However, Hanney and other company executives also made it clear the ISVs they are looking for must be leaders in industry niches around the world.

IBM has industry teams looking at potential companies who could embed its WebSphere application server, Tivoli network management tools, DB2 database or Lotus messaging software in their products for mid-sized companies, said Bob Timpson, IBM’s general manager for developer relations.

“”Each team is asking ‘In order to be a leader in Canada, what partners do we need?”” said Timpson. “”It may be different in Edmonton from Toronto. And we’re dealing with guys that may be fairly small. We’re looking at recruiting maybe a thousand more partners [worldwide] in one year, and they may not be household names.””

These vendors would be in “”specialized industry verticals, who may be disaffected Sun, H-P, Oracle or BEA partners,”” he added. IBM also hunting for “”high-end Microsoft players”” who need infrastructure that supports their applications across departments or between businesses.

Distributors and integrators will also be asked to commit to sell a higher percentage of IBM hardware and software, he said. Among the qualifications, potential recruits have to show high customer satisfaction for their software.

The new products and services include:

  • WebSphere Application Server – Express, available Dec. 13 and priced at $41 per intranet user or $3270 per processor. Based on WebSphere Application Server, it’s designed to be an engine for partner applications and can be installed in five clicks.

The Express line also includes the previously announced Portal – Express and Business Connection – Express, entry level versions of WebSphere products;

  • Express Partner Pack, a US$500 bundle for software developers which includes five copies of WebSphere Application Server – Express for resale as well as online education, training and porting assistance;
  • DB2 Express, a US$1,000 version of the company’s relational database to be released early next year for Windows, Linux and Unix, for embedding in solutions. It will include remote database management features;
  • Reduced rates and a lower entry point from IBM and partners for financing middleware purchases. The minimum transaction size will be US$25,000.

IBM also said it will shortly open technical certification training of its software products to training companies and business partners. This expands a similar channel offering by Lotus for its products. Certified training in other IBM software has only been offered by IBM.

Qualified companies will have to show experience in training. Current business partners may also be approved to provide end user and custom training on IBM software products to complement their existing offerings.

Comment: info@itbusines.ca

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