IBM rolls out Express line to SMB market

TORONTO – In a bid to bring enterprise functionality down to the SMB market, Big Blue has unveiled a package of products and services under the Express portfolio.

As part of the product lineup, IBM has rolled out five ThinkPad notebooks and five ThinkCentre desktop models designed for

SMB customers.

The benefits of express include ease of use and management, and price. The product rollout “”gives you the best bang for the buck,”” said Harry Wttewaall, IBM Canada Ltd.’s national ThinkPad specialist.

“”We’re able to design specifically on price points – T-products for this market – by, for example, going from a three-year warranty down to a one-year warranty.””

For the corporate market, IBM pitches the m-series, which is all about manageability, and long life span (12 months), but for the mid-market customers aren’t as concerned about long life span, Wttewaall said. “”They want good current technology, but they don’t want it to change every two minutes; they want to make sure they get the sweet spot on the market.””

Under the latest SMB efforts, services include financing, servers, and software that have products specifically geared with price, ease of use and management, and top quality functionality in mind, he said.

For example, the ThinkPad notebooks and ThinkCentre desktops are offered with IBM’s ThinkVantage Technologies, which gives SMB customers security, manageability, and connectivity, he said. “”With the ThinkVantage, one of the areas we’ve spent a lot of time differentiating ourselves is on image building, on tools and security.””

Of interest to SMBs are two technology features, he said, highlighting RapidRestore PC/Ultra (disaster recovery solutions that can restore previously saved data, setting and applications); and IBM Access Connections (a software utility for ThinkPads which allows users to manage wired and wireless connections).

“”We’re trying to promote the tools that have benefited our large enterprises that we think the small or medium business can benefit from as well,”” he said.

System migration assistant (SMA) is another tool that will be useful for SMBs to run. “”People realize there’s a significant amount of time and frustration in migrating to the new machine.”” The process can take as long as two days, but with the SMA tool, the time to migrate can take a few hours depending on the amount of files.

Given almost half of the Canadian market is comprised of SMBs, he said the products will work well through the channel. But dealers won’t get the special bid pricing for the ThinkPad product lineup for the Express models because of the “”aggressive pricing,”” he said. “”It’s best price/first time.””

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