IBM teams up with Narad to target SMB market

IBM Corp. Monday announced it is teaming up with startup Narad Networks Inc. to jointly develop a service delivery platform that will aid cable operators in reaching the oft-forgotten SMB (small and midsize business) markets.

The announcement was characterized as part of a “far reaching” strategy of IBM’s to extend the company’s technologies and services from the enterprises to the SMBs, said IBM executives.

The essence of the partnership will enable cable operators, refereed to as MSOs (multiple service operators), to use their existing cable infrastructure to offer additional IP services, including managed storage, managed hosting, and bandwidth access.

According to Chuck Kaplan, marketing director at Narad Networks, in Westford, Mass., his company’s software will allow the creation of the aforementioned services and will also utilize their Broadband Access Network- a device that provides up to 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps switched Ethernet over hybrid fiber coax (HFC) by utilizing the frequency band above 860 MHz.

Kaplan explains that MSOs can drop the device into their networks and thus use their cable infrastructure from the head-end, where the service originates, to the premise. “We let cable operators use their existing cable plant without new construction,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan goes on to explain that the company’s Broadband Access Network device uses the frequency above 860MHz and therefore does not interfere with existing services, but rather runs on top of them.

The partnerships will see IBM providing a variety of technologies, including their WebSphere software, PowerPC chips, device software, storage systems, DB2 database software, and managed services.

Peter Gaucher, director of Segment Strategy at IBM Pervasive Computing, said the partnership will allow MSOs to offer differentiated services and will help SMBs by reducing staff and by outsourcing many of their applications including back-ups.

“We see this as bridging the proverbial digital divide between enterprises and SMBs,” Gaucher said. “HFC cable passes 70 percent of SMBs today, so new plants will not have to be built.”

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM’s Global Services division will provide the hosting services for the MSOs and will even assist in building out NOCs (network operation centers) if required.

Gaucher explains that other new services MSOs will be able to offer include VPNs, high-speed data access, and video services.

Further details of the partnerships are expected later this year. IBM intends to form additional partnerships throughout the year that directly help the company reach the SMB market, Gaucher said.

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