IBM rolls out SMB offerings

IBM will emphasise its commitment to small- and medium-sized companies (SMBs) when it unveils several bundled solutions with the...

IBM will emphasise its commitment to small- and medium-sized companies (SMBs) when it unveils several bundled products with the Express line of scaled-down server-based applications at their core.

The offerings will include various combinations of server and desktop hardware, server applications such as the Express versions of WebSphere, DB2, Tivoli, Notes and, later this year, the Express version of Content Manager, along with financing options.

The WebSphere Commerce Express bundle is aimed at SMBs trying to create and manage an e-commerce site.  Its easy-to-use installation process will enable users to build an online store in less than an hour, according to sources.

A second offering, called the IBM Wholesale Distribution Solution for SAP Express, features a combination of software, services, and hardware that facilitates quicker design, deployment and participation in customers' supply chains.

The bundle is anchored by SAP's Business One line, which is designed to help miedium-sized companies address a number of "business process needs".

The Personal Computing Express portfolio is new within ThinkPad notebooks, ThinkCenter desktops and ThinkVision monitors from IBM's personal computing division.

IBM's Financing Express is a collection of finance offerings from IBM Global Financing which gives medium-sized companies a single line of credit under one contract and invoice, allowing them to better finance various components.

Some analysts have welcomed the move by IBM, and said IBM has shown it has thought through the needs and issues facing most SMBs, rather than rushing ideas to market just to cash in on the momentum building there over the past few years.

"I think [the Express series] looks solid. They really approached it from the mindset of a medium-sized customer, looking at what their needs might be. They have a really defined set of criteria and characteristics that a product has to meet before they'll put the Express brand on it," said John Madden, a senior analyst with Summit Strategies.

The IBM announcement further fuels an already hot market where several rivals, including Microsoft, have made major investments over the past year or two. Some analysts' estimates put the overall worth of the SMB market at $300bn (£181bn).

All of the Express-based products will be sold largely through the company's network of solution providers and authorised resellers as well as through the company's website.

Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service


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