IBM Corp. is set to expand its “on-demand” menu of offerings, announcing new products that are designed to help companies make more efficient use of their servers and storage equipment.

The products include storage virtualization products, software for pooling application servers, tools that make it easier to add servers to increase capacity and balance server load, and “pay-as-you-grow” offerings for storage and blade server systems, IBM said in a statement. With the height of the technology boom over, many businesses are focused on simplifying their IT environments and cutting the cost of running systems they have in place. IBM hopes to sell products that will help achieve that with its on-demand initiative, which is similar to Sun Microsystems Inc.’s N1 and Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Utility Datacenter and Adaptive Infrastructure initiatives. IBM’s Storage Area Network (SAN) Volume Controller, SAN Integration Server and SAN File System are the company’s first storage virtualization products.

Release of Office 2003 delayed until fall

Microsoft Corp., following feedback from beta testers, plans to release a “refresh” of Office 2003 beta 2 before finalizing the product, pushing back the commercial launch of the productivity software suite until the third quarter, the company said last month. “We are making a number of improvements to the beta 2 version of the Office System products,” said a Microsoft spokesman who asked not to be named. “There are no major issues with Office 2003, but the beta has allowed the Office development team to gather feedback about some minor issues that can impact customer satisfaction.”

Microsoft declined to detail what improvements are being made or what issues the beta testers found. The refreshed version is scheduled to be released later this quarter, most likely on Microsoft’s Office beta Web site, the spokesman said.

Office 2003 beta 2 was announced in early March. Originally, Microsoft was planning to release the final Office 2003 code in June, but that has now been pushed back to some time in the third quarter, the spokesman said.

J.D. Edwards tool aims to ease integration

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor J.D. Edwards recently released a tool that focuses on integrating data across the supply chain and targets manufacturers and distributors. Its supply chain business modeler (SCBM) is able to consolidate information across disparate business applications into a single repository. The data can either be centralized or stored in a disk-based repository or in the case of enterprise customers, they may choose to distribute the data, explained Andy Carlson, director of product marketing for supply chain management in Denver.

Acting as a single repository for supply chain data, the SCMB manages the shared data through the planning management, order management and multi-mode manufacturing and logistics applications. The SCBM tool will also support key performance indicators (KPIs) and key performance predictors (KPPs).

Palm unveils Tungsten enterprise handheld

Targeting enterprise-class users, Palm Canada unveiled the Tungsten C last month, a handheld device with built in Wi-Fi high-speed connectivity. Michael Moskowitz, president of Palm Canada, said the Tungsten C is a “powerful enterprise work force.”

Within the Canadian market, the Tungsten C specifically targets home networking users, hot spot users and users within corporate offices, Moskowitz said. Hot spots are public places that give people wireless access. As wireless connectivity in places such as airports, hotels and offices becomes commonplace, hot spot access has exploded, he said. So, the new Wi-Fi feature on the PDA helps to extend wireless connectivity for those corporate employees who travel, and frequently use hot spots. From an enterprise perspective, Moskowtiz says the device has the most memory of any Palm OS handheld on the market, and there is also an expansion slot to add more.