IBM to unwrap Express apps

IBM will underline its companywide commitment to SMBs when it introduces versions of DB2, Notes and Tivoli at its PartnerWorld...

IBM will underline its companywide commitment to SMBs when it introduces versions of DB2, Notes and Tivoli at its PartnerWorld conference in New Orleans.

The ''express'' versions of the server-based products contain the core functions necessary for SMBs to run an e-business effectively, as well as making it easier for them to create a range of on-demand computing strategies.

"These are not the fully featured versions, they include only the stuff that is important for mostly mid-cap companies. They are trying to extend out their express brands like they have done with WebSphere," said one business partner.

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

At next week's conference, several top IBM executives will be stressing the importance of pursuing SMB's as part of their respective overall product strategies, including Marc Lautenbach, the general manager of IBM's SMB group.

With a mandate coming from the highest reaches of IBM management, IBM redoubled its efforts more than a year ago to pursue opportunities in the SMB markets. Many analysts agree the financial worth of those markets is about $300bn (£186bn) a year.

Last year, IBM's product divisions planned to invest $100m in marketing efforts to promote the fact that its business partners and solution providers would focus hard on solutions to users both large and small and not on selling individual products.

Some analysts believed IBM's redoubled effort to go after the SMB space was well timed, given that market has been largely untapped by the top-tier suppliers. They also believed 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. 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," said RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady.

IBM will also introduce its Solutions Grid optimised to work with DB2, WebSphere, Domino, Tivoli and IBM's eServer line of host systems. Corporate users and developers can use the Globus Toolkit to develop applications that will work across multiple operating environments.

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