IBM Grows Its Express Advantage Initiative

New hardware, software and services from Big Blue are aimed at the lucrative SMB market.

IBM is introducing a host of hardware, software and services as it continues to fill out its Express Advantages program aimed at the midmarket.

The Armonk, N.Y., company has targeted the small and midsize business space as a key growth area, a market that stands at about $226 billion, Elaine Case, director of express and influencer marketing for the Global SMB organization at IBM, said during a press conference on Oct. 24.

The Express Advantage initiative, introduced at the IBM PartnerWorld 2006 show in March, is designed to provide customers and partners with complete solutions—hardware, software and services—that are easy to deploy, manage and buy.

According to Case, the program offers a three-pronged strategy: offerings designed with the needs of SMBs in mind; third-party partners providing a local face to IBM and its technologies; and offering customers a positive experience.

"The market[served by the Express Advantage program]is totally in SMB … and the sweet spot is the midmarket," she said.

That is at the heart of what IBM rolled out Oct. 24. The company unveiled three new servers powered by the latest dual-core chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices and three new printers that are low cost while offering such features as wireless capabilities and controlled access to color printing, according to Todd Austin, manager of worldwide SMB marketing for IBMs Systems & Technology Group.

The System x3200 is a one-socket tower system and the x3250 is a 1U (1.75-inch) rack system, both powered by Intels Xeon chips.

The x3655 is a 2U (3.5-inch) server running on AMDs Opteron processor that offers up to 64GB of memory and is aimed at such spaces as digital media and life sciences, Austin said.

The new printers were the Infoprint 1612, 1622 and 1634.

In addition, IBM unveiled a host of integrated solutions—a combination of hardware and software, preconfigured and pretested—including System p5 Solution Edition Express for Oracles JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Oracle E-Business Suite.

The company also rolled out a System p Solution Edition Express for mySAP ERP (enterprise resource planning) and IBM System i IP Telephony Express.

The ERP solution addresses a particularly important part of the market, Austin said, adding that more than 80 percent of SMBs will be replacing their ERP systems over the next couple of years.

The new Express Asset Recovery Solutions services address such issues as buying back or disposing of old equipment to ensure that data on those pieces of hardware cannot be recovered.


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In addition to the hardware and software packages, IBM also is adding onto its Solutions Builder Express program aimed at helping partners—from software makers to systems integrators—work with SMB customers to address their technology needs.

One new starting point solution lets partners offer services to monitor the health and inventory of the hardware and send out alerts when needed.

Another allows partners to remotely manage facets of their clients infrastructure, from the installation of operating systems to server backup and restore services.

Vince Taravella, director of channel sales for IBM Business Partner Vormittag Associates, of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., said IBMs Express Advantage program helps partners offer clients technology and services that those clients need and that can fit into their budgets.

"Theyre very cost-conscious," Taravella said of his SMB customers. "They want a midrange solution, but think they cant afford it."


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