IBM Gears Entry-Level DB2 for SMBs

DBMS is just one of a number of Big Blue products unveiled for the small and midsize business market.

NEW ORLEANS—Taking another step in its pursuit of the fast-growing small and medium-sized business market, IBM Tuesday unveiled scaled-down versions of its DB2 database management system and products from its Lotus and Tivoli software lines.

The new products, launched here at IBMs annual PartnerWorld gathering of 3,000 of its reseller, ISV, integrator and other business partners, are dubbed DB2 Express, Tivoli Storage Resource Manager Express Edition, and Lotus Domino Utility Server Express and Lotus Domino Collaboration Bundle Express. The products, all of which will be available in the second quarter of this year, will be mainly sold through IBM business partners and will be targeted at customers with 1,000 or fewer employees. They join lower-cost Express versions of IBMs WebSphere application server product announced last fall.

In addition to the lower-cost software infrastructure products, IBM unveiled several initiatives that officials said are intended to support business partners selling into the SMB market. They include several online and automated tools intended to help business partners represent to customers the business value of their offerings; a new IBM-support computing grid intended to allow partners to simulate and demonstrate their products deployed on a grid; and access to IBM training and certification content to allow them to offer training programs to their customers and business partners.

The new DB2 Express product will run on Linux and Windows operating systems and carry an entry-level price of $1,000. Officials said the offering will be integrated by business partners into their offerings. In addition to core DBMS functionality, the product will include self-configuring and self-tuning features.

The new Tivoli Storage Resource Manager Express Edition is based on Tivolis current SRM product. It is, however, designed to allow SMB customers to install the software in 15 minutes and to be deployed on single-processor desktop systems.

The Lotus Domino Utility Server Express product will allow access to Domino-based collaboration applications via a Notes client or Web browser. The Lotus Domino Collaboration Bundle Express includes the Domino server and access via either the Lotus Notes client or Lotus Domino Web Access.

The new Grid for Business Partners, IBM officials said, is not designed as a production environment but strictly as a demonstration and testing platform for business partners in the United States. IBM has already begun providing access to the grid to business partners. According to James Corgel, general manager of e-business hosting services at IBM in Somers, N.Y., the grid will be hosted from IBM sites in Waltham, Mass.; Chicago; Dallas; and San Mateo, Calif.

The series of hosted, Web-based tools introduced by IBM are intended to support resellers through a variety of sales and marketing processes. Some, such as Profiler for e-business, allow resellers to model customers readiness for a variety of e-business solutions. Others, such as SkillTap for the IBM eServer iSeries, are focused on supporting online communities. Another, the Business Partner ROI Tool for Linux, is an online tool that helps business partners evaluate the porting of their software to the Linux platform.

Such online tools help business partners demonstrate to their small and medium-sized business customers how IBMs vision of e-business on demand "can work in the real world," said Van Symonds, president of Clear Technologies, a Dallas-based CRM software vendor and IBM business partner.