Entering E-biz? Help Is Here

Avnet, IBM hold solutions providers' hands, as they dive into e-business integration.

Solutions providers moving upstream into e-business integration face a serious and tough challenge even in the best of IT markets, let alone one marked by turbulence.

Avnet Computer Marketing and IBM, however, aim to make the transition easier. The companies offer a host integration program intended to help solutions providers launch or expand an e-business practice.

The program launched in Q4 with about a dozen active participants, but Avnet and IBM now plan to roll out the program to 50 more solutions providers. Overall, Avnet works with a population of about 750 IBM-authorized solutions providers in the United States.

Many of those partners havent "fully embraced an e-business practice or strategy," says Jim Teter, senior VP of marketing at Avnet. The host integration program provides technology and training to help solutions providers move their customers applications into "an Internet-based world," Teter adds.

Specifically, Avnet offers its allies two IBM product bundles. The host access client package includes IBMs Personal Communications host access product, WebSphere Host On-Demand Java-based terminal emulator, and Screen Customizer graphical user interface.

The host integration bundle, meanwhile, provides all the elements of the host access client package as well as additional elements. Those include a Communications Server, which handles protocol conversion; Host Publisher, which converts mainframe application data streams to HTML; and the WebSphere Application Server. Although not part of either bundle, IBMs Transcoding Publisher is another Web-enabling tool aimed at solutions providers. The product prepares output from applications for pervasive computing devices such as Palm Pilots.

IBMs goal is to provide full coverage for e-business, says Stuart McIrvine, program director of market management for WebSphere Host Integration. IBM seeks to cover "the whole e-business model for legacy access," he says.

Livingston Consulting is among the first solutions providers to participate in the Avnet/IBM program. Keith Barros, VP and practice director of e-business solutions at the company, says the program has helped "jump-start us to get host integration business." He adds that the company has captured deals to Web-enable AS/400s for chemical manufacturing and government customers. The host integration initiative has opened new accounts and has deepened the companys involvement in the midrange space, according to Barros.

Through the host integration program, IBM also provides mentoring to assist solutions provider technicians in the initial implementations, says Adam Slater, Avnets program manager for host integration.

Anyone up for the e-business plunge?