Meanwhile, IBM is courting developers and has more than 2.8 million of them signed on to its DeveloperWorks developer network, said Buell Duncan, general manager of developer relations at IBM. Nowhere is the battle for developers more important than in the small- and midsize-business market. Duncan said this market is important for three reasons: "Its a large market, its where more than 50 percent of IT dollars are being spent; its the fastest-growing market; and its where we have to stop Microsoft."Barry Gilbane, vice president of business development for Nexaweb Technologies Inc., in Cambridge, Mass., said, "We signed on with IBM because we identified a strong fit with our product and WebSphere, and we felt this was the best go-to-market partner we could find." Eric Sherman, director of business development at Natural Messaging Inc., in Portland, Ore., another IBM ISV partner, said his company is in the enterprise IM space. "We saw IBM as an important partner to align with because they are the leader in enterprise IM," Sherman said. Customers such as Jim Glavan, IT director at Acuity Inc., in Sheboygan, Wis., swear by IBM because the systems company continues to lead. "We continue to stick with IBM software. ... They are setting the pace, and other companies dont have the ability to offer the same thing," Glavan said. Kerry Grimes, chief operating officer at Rocksteady Networks Inc., in Austin, Texas, said one reason his company partnered with IBM is because "there is no other hardware company with the software and services of IBM." IBM used to be closed and proprietary, "but now they have opened up and are very partner-friendly," he said. Even IBM competitors are fans. "I have a lot of respect for IBM," said Alfred Chuang, CEO of BEA Systems Inc., IBMs chief application server rival. But Chuang points out an ongoing challenge for IBM that the company must diligently manage. "Theyve been a great competitor," said Chuang, in San Jose, Calif. "But they have 340-some pieces of software bundled in WebSphere. How do they integrate all of that? Theres no magic; this stuff is hard." Latest IBM News:
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The next area of opportunity for IBM Software Group is Web services, where IBM is taking a leadership role in driving standards, along with Microsoft. IBM Research is a big help in this space, having led the way in the development of several XML technologies, including XQuery and Simple Object Access Protocol 1.2, said Alfred Spector, vice president of software and services at IBM Research.