IBM extends wireless hosting services

IBM Corp. announced on Monday an extension of its hosting services to wireless devices and the launch of two new products designed for companies interested in providing wireless services and applications to users.

IBM later this year will begin offering the hosting services via its hosting centers in the U.S., Europe and Asia. IBM is implementing software and hardware in the hosting centers so it can provide access to applications, services and intranets to mobile devices. Pricing for the hosting services will vary depending on the outsourcing agreement.

“We are one of the largest Web hosters in the business and we are extending that to wireless devices,” said Tara Sexton, an IBM spokeswoman.

The Armonk, New York-based company currently operates almost 200 data and hosting centers worldwide, and has plans to add 68 more hosting centers in the U.S. and Europe.

The provision of hosting services is part of the early evolution of the wireless market, said one analyst.

“Wireless is just starting to take off,” said Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz Group Inc. in Framingham, Mass. “It is quite early in the evolution in that market. I believe that hosting (services) and hosting companies are becoming really a linchpin in this market.”

Companies seeking to provide wireless services or applications may find it more attractive to outsource the necessary infrastructure, Hurwitz said. There are issues such as security and synchronization that some companies may not be ready to take on themselves, she said. The flip side of the coin is a “huge revenue possibility” for hosting providers, such as IBM, she said.

The new products announced on Monday are:

– WebSphere Everyplace Suite Service Provider Edition: This middleware assists with linking wireless devices to Web content. It supports multiple wired and wireless networks and protocols, provides a transcoding server to adapt existing Web content for wireless devices and offers message queuing and synchronization to support online and offline operations. It also provides subscriber management, encryption and security features. The program suite is available immediately worldwide and pricing is on a per-subscriber base. No pricing examples were immediately available.

– IBM eServer p640: This rack-mountable server is designed for Web hosting and is equipped with IBM’s copper-based Power3-II microprocessors and comes with up to 16G bytes of ECC SDRAM. The server is available immediately worldwide and starts at US$13,600.

IBM, in Armonk, N.Y., can be reached at