: IBM Looks to Partners to Reach Mid-Market"> Three years ago Big Blue announced it would stop developing software for industry vertical applications and focus instead on partnerships with ISVs [independent service providers] to sell its infrastructure products coupled with software. While it has more than 90 current alliances, IBMs pumping its considerable marketing mightand dollarsinto signing more partners that have an in with SMB customers.Big Blue also announced reduced rates and a lower entry point for financing its middleware. Available through IBM authorized business partners and internal sales, a new minimum transaction amount has been set at $25,000. At the same time, a long-term partner of IBMs, Ariba Inc. announced new software to help midsized companies manage their spend. Aribas Spend Management Advantage software is a series of five packaged ESM solutions that address business, process, technology, supplier and operations issues. The SMA packages include Aribas Spend Management applications, along with IBMs eServer, WebSphere and DB2 productsas well as its consulting services. The Spend Management modules include Strategic Advantage, Buying Advantage, Sourcing Advantage, Performance Advantage and Infrastructure Advantage. Ariba and IBM will work with customers to help define their spend management goals and develop a strategy that aligns those initiatives. The companies will jointly sell Aribas Spend Management Advantage software. Despite a growing network of partners and more cash pumped into development, IBM faces some stiff competition. Microsoft Corp., of Redmond, Wash., has long had its hooks in that market and has acquired two ERP [enterprise resource planning] software companies, Great Plains and Navision, with solid SMB customer bases. At the same time, Microsoft has strong ties with the SMB market at the desktop level. Likewise, Oracle Corp., which also offers infrastructure software and e-business applications, is making a push into the SMB market and has partnered with NetLedger Inc. to develop software that reaches across the sector.
To this extent, Big Blue is doing what it can to make itself more attractive to the mid-market. The company announced a new managed service for midsized companieshosted by VeriSign and based on IBM Tivoli Access Managerthat provides security for portals, extranets and other business applications.