IBM takes the quick and easy route

Big Blue moved into the express lane last month with a slew of product announcements aimed at a portion of the market that IBM has not traditionally been known to court.

The first of these, DB2 Express, is a database for the mid-market with an entry-level price tag of less than US$1,000. It is aimed at the retail, manufacturing and banking vertical markets and will run on Linux and Windows. It is slated to be available worldwide in the second quarter.

IBM said in redesigning the software, it has focused on self-tuning features to reduce complexity and ownership costs.

Also announced was Tivoli Storage Resource Manager Express Edition, which targets small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to manage their storage needs. It is designed for single processor desktops at a cost of approximately US$100 per desktop, the company said.

A third product, Lotus Domino Collaboration Express, is geared to mid-market companies with fewer than 1,000 employees. It will ship with the Domino Server, in addition to either Notes client or iNotes browser-based e-mail. The software’s support for messaging, calendaring and custom applications will resemble that found in IBM’s standard Lotus software.

Despite the mounting competition in the SMB market, IBM doesn’t seem preoccupied with whoever else decides to jump into the fray.

“There are so many competitors in different areas but not one that does the end-to-end software middleware story that we do (and) [we] don’t really think of any one vendor as a key competitor because no one else is able to give that customer a homogenous solution,” said Aisha Umar, business unit executive for data at IBM Canada in Markham, Ont.

The company even plans to provide monetary incentives for its partners to sell to medium-sized businesses, said Mark Ouellette, vice-president of sales and marketing for small- and medium-sized businesses at IBM’s software group.

Meanwhile, IBM is also set to release its next version of WebSphere Portal-Express, which will include support for Linux and Microsoft SQL Server as well as new collaboration features.

It also unveiled its WebSphere Application Server Enterprise Version 5. The upgrade to WebSphere will offer business process workflow capabilities, or the ability to design an application that automates a sequence of business transactions with a visual tool. The workflow capabilities – which IBM calls “choreography” – will be based on emerging Web services standards. WebSphere Application Server Enterprise costs US$25,000 per server processor.

Finally, IBM will also introduce a software development tool aimed specifically at integrating applications, part of its effort to help companies share data between disparate systems. WebSphere Studio Application Developer Integration Edition Version 5, which costs US$6,000 per developer seat, is targeted at programmers who want to create new applications by integrating data and processes from existing systems.

– With files from IDG News Service