IBM Products Scale to Smaller Businesses

DB2 Express, Tivoli, Lotus offerings to be sold at lower cost via partners.

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

The 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.

Marc Lautenbach, general manager of global small and medium business at IBM, predicted the entry-level versions of key IBM software products will allow the company to grab additional share of the SMB market, estimated at $150 billion per year and growing. "Twenty-three percent of IBMs revenues already come from the SMB market," said Lautenbach. "So weve already been quietly successful in that market for some time."

The products, available next quarter, will be mainly sold through IBM business partners and targeted at customers with 1,000 or fewer employees. They join lower-cost Express versions of IBMs WebSphere application server product, which were announced in the 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 included several online and automated tools intended to help business partners represent to customers the business value of their offerings, an 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 customers and business partners.

The DB2 Express product will run on Linux and Windows systems, at 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.

Tivoli Storage Resource Manager Express Edition is based on Tivolis current Storage Resource Manager 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. 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, said IBM officials in Armonk, N.Y., 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 various 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.