Big Blue on Monday will announce a mentoring initiative to help startup companies in China, India, Russia and Brazil more easily develop solutions based on open standards technology by giving their developers instant access to IBM hardware and software, right from their desktops.
Mark Hanny, IBMs vice president of ISV and developer relations for emerging markets, told eWEEK in an interview that more than 400 developers a day joined IBMs developer networks in emerging markets last year.
"This equates to about 17 new developers signing up every hour. In response to this, we are deploying a series of virtual mentoring classes that will allow developers to integrate their applications with IBM technologies through virtual resources," he said.
As such, IBM will roll out more than 40 different virtual enablement workshops through the IBM Virtual Innovation Center. As a result, application development companies in those emerging markets will now be able to gain access to a host of virtual workshops through Web conferences from their personal computers.
Students can attend classes from their home, office or even local coffee shop by dialing into a lecture via phone or VOIP (voice over IP), he said. Before each class, IBM will configure a customized remote environment for students so they can follow the lecture and participate in virtual learning labs, Hanny said.
The instructor will remain accessible via telephone, e-mail and instant messaging to support students through each stage of enablement.
The virtual workshops will cover a wide range of topics, including classes to jump-start software development on IBM WebSphere Application Server, Advanced Portal technology and IBM Express middleware.
"Through this initiative, we at IBM are paving the way for thousands of ISVs to pursue virtual enablement so that they can go to market with their solutions faster," Hanny said, adding that IBM has already received interest in virtual workshops from ISVs in Brazil, India and China.
Asked why IBM is looking at emerging markets so aggressively, Hanny said these markets are growing far more rapidly than the U.S. and Western European markets. "IBMs revenue grew by more than 25 percent in these markets last quarter," he said.
"Businesses in these markets are now buying business solutions, many of them for the first time, and that is fuelling the growth. They are also moving from a PC market to a solutions-driven one, and this brings huge opportunities for them and us in their home markets," he said.
That optimism is borne out by research from IDC, with a recent study saying that China and India will experience the highest growth in professional software developers by 2008, with compound annual growth rates of 25.6 percent and 24.5 percent, respectively.
IDC also forecasts that the total number of professional developers, many of whom will be building solutions on open standards technology, will reach nearly 15 million in 2008, Hanny told eWEEK.
IBM will also announce on Monday that it has formed a new Venture Capital Advisory Council, which will work with IBM to accelerate innovation around the deployment of open standards-based solutions, particularly in emerging markets.
The council will also provide feedback on how IBM can continue to identify new partnership opportunities and help evolve its partner programs to best assist the hundreds of innovative startup companies arising out of these countries daily.
The Venture Capital Advisory Council will meet throughout the year to review opportunities for startups in IBMs partner programs, and initial council members include Accel Partners; Darby Overseas Investments Ltd.; Draper, Fisher and Jurvetson; Hummer Windblad Venture Partners; U.S. Venture Partners; and Walden International.
"IBM does not want to be a venture capitalist itself, but we do recognize that these firms can play a great role in helping early-stage startups that may not know about our technologies work with IBM. These companies have already introduced more than 850 ISVs to us," Hanny said.