IBM Aims to Make iSeries More Attractive to SMBs

The company's Solutions Edition of the low-end i520 system will let customers get customized software from various software makers.

IBM is pushing to make its iSeries systems even more attractive to small and midsize businesses.

The Armonk, N.Y., company this week introduced the Solutions Edition of the low-end i520 system, a program that mirrors what IBM offers with the midrange i550, said Ian Jarman, iSeries product manager.

Starting July 22, customers can get customized software from various software makers—including Agilysys Inc., Oracle Corp., SSA Global Technologies Inc. and CommercialWare Inc.—on the two-way i520.

If customers want those applications on the i520, they can get a special offer on the server, Jarman said.

In addition, the i520 will be able to run applications not only based on the 5250 data environment, but also on WebSphere and Domino simultaneously, he said.

IBM defines the SMB (small and midsize business) space as businesses with up to 1,000 employees.

The i520 is targeted at those companies with 100 to 500 employees, he said.

IBM also is looking to simplify the IT infrastructure for its iSeries. A key benefit of the systems is that they can run a variety of operating systems—i5/OS, AIX, Linux and Windows—at the same time, Jarman said. The company is introducing a new pricing model in which customers need only buy a single i5/OS license when they purchase certain systems, Jarman said. For example, when users previously bought a four- to 16-way i570, they had to purchase at least four i5/OS licenses, he said. Now they only need to pay for one.

The pricing model will make it less costly for smaller businesses to consolidate their infrastructure onto the iSeries by giving them greater flexibility in choosing the operating systems they run on it, he said.

In the same vein, IBM is offering software maintenance by processor, which is consistent with the rest of the industry, Jarman said.

Customers also now will be able to order software upgrades through the Internet, designed to ensure an easier and faster process for ordering software upgrades.

The moves are the latest in an effort by IBM to raise the awareness of the iSeries platform, bring the latest capabilities to the systems and reinvigorate the channel, Jarman said.

The channel is a key part of the iSeries push, he said. About 85 percent of the iSeries business comes through channel partners.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about IBMs effort to court SMBs.

Last year, iSeries systems were among the first to get outfitted with the new Power5 processor.

This year IBM is bulking up the software and bundles around the iSeries, and has launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness.

Through its iSeries Initiative for Innovation, IBM is offering some 2,500 ISVs and developers an average of $50,000 in services—including access to IBM experts and five new global centers—to create offerings for iSeries users.

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