With the help of a Montreal-based integrator IBM has brought its show and tell program to Canada.

Solution & Integration of New Concepts (SINC) Thursday announced the opening of its WebSphere Innovation Center. The facilities

serve a variety of roles: providing hands on access to hardware, proof-of-concept testing, and education briefings.

“”The Center is a facility where you can see demos of the different WebSphere family products. You have a training facility and an extensive lab to do proof-of-concept stuff,”” says Jean Perron, president of development and integration for SINC. “”We can integrate everything; we have mainframes, AIX, Sun.””

“”They can do different mockups and what-if scenarios to help customers really see the value of the solutions, as opposed to looking at a chart,”” adds John Donaldson, business unit executive for WebSphere, IBM Canada.

The fact that the first Canadian Center opened in Montreal has everything to do with SINC and little to do with the city itself. Donaldson credits SINC’s ability and depth of technical “”moxie,”” while Perron adds there are a number of hoops to jump through. He says a company needs to be certified on a lot of IBM equipment to be eligible.

The Center occupies about 2,000 sq. ft. at the company’s office. Perron says it has been equipped with about $1 million worth of hardware and is open for business. He says he expects to see business of all types come looking for a test drive.

“”For a large company, they want to see a product, they want to see the behaviour,”” Perron says “”For small and medium businesses, this is an excellent opportunity to diminish their risk. They will be able to come — and I’m sure they’re going to come — to reassure themselves they’ve making good decisions.””

Donaldson agress. “”Over the next 15 months I think you’ll see them (SINC) really actively trying to promote pre-packaged, easy to install solutions for the small business environment,”” he says. “”You can see clearly how this Innovation Center really helps to accelerate that for small business users, who are rally looking to understand the business benefit versus the technology underneath.””

SINC needn’t widen its front doors just yet to accommodate a rush of users. Donaldson says it has been implementing the Centres for almost a year and a half. Early on, he says, IBM was learning by trial and error. While the model is now considerably more refined, it’s not a licence to print money.

“”SINC is joining at a time where we’ve got enough experience under our belt that we know what the plan needs to be, what pieces need to be included and what the formula for success is,”” Donaldson says. “”But like anything, these are semi-sophisticated environments and it does take a while, quite frankly, to perfect the model.””

Montreal may be first, but it is unlike to be last. Donaldson says the WebSphere market in Canada grew by 20 per cent in the second quarter and major centres are being eyed for expansion.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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