UPDATE: IBM to launch mid-market portal software

IBM Corp. said Thursday it will ship a ‘lite’ version of its WebSphere portal software.

Targeted to small- and medium-sized businesses, IBM WebSphere Portal Express will require only one server, will install in “five clicks” and will be priced aggressively enough to attract smaller businesses, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM said in a statement.

All of IBM’s smaller customers will be eligible for the product’s “low, per-user pricing,” the company said, as opposed to only those with a large number of users. Taking a jab at Microsoft Corp., IBM said that company reserves its lowest discount pricing only for portal customers with 2,000 users or more.

IBM said the solution will be the first of several software products targeting the mid-market.

Even as software spending is down and IT spending budgets are stretched tight, a June report by Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Dataquest revealed that new licence revenue for the worldwide portal software market was US$709 million in 2001 – up 59 per cent.

Bob Peterson, director of portals and content management for Hurwitz Group in Framingham, Mass., said as portal implementations mature, “organizations will be looking for more plug-and-play content sources that have a high degree of enterprise interoperability.”

IBM is aggressively targeting the Canadian mid-market, said John Donaldson, WebSphere business unit executive for IBM Canada in Markham, Ont.

Donaldson defined the Canadian mid-market as companies with 100 to 500 employees.

What is considered mid-market in the U.S. is often regarded as a larger enterprise within Canada, Donaldson noted, adding that this means Canadians have the added benefit of enjoying “U.S. mid-market functionality” from the offering.

IBM tried to make its product easy to deploy and use in order to attract companies with few IT staff. With relatively little effort, customers and IBM channel partners will be able to customize page layouts, add portlets or change a portal’s interface, according to IBM.

The product is priced at US$77 per intranet user, with a limit of 2,000 users per portal server, and US$30,000 per processor for extranet use, with a limit of four processor licenses per portal server. It is due to be available for download by Oct. 31.

IBM also announced a slightly more advanced version of the product Thursday, WebSphere Portal Express Plus, which has the same functions along with added features such as instant messaging, group calendaring, document libraries, and document sharing and revision capabilities.

WebSphere Portal Express Plus, also available Oct. 31, is priced at US$122 per intranet user and US$47,820 per processor for extranet use.

– With files from IDG News Service