IBM Improves ISV Connections

The new VPN service replaces existing remote access available in some centers with a more flexible and secure offering

By Paula Musich

IBM today announced that it will make it even easier for Independent Software Vendors to port and test their applications on IBM servers and middleware with new VPN access to its Solution Partnership Centers.

The new VPN service replaces existing remote access available in some centers with a more flexible and secure offering that allows ISVs to avoid the time and expense involved in traveling to the centers in order to port their applications to IBM platforms ranging from eServers, iSeries, pSeries, zSeries and for IBM middleware such as WebSphere, DB2, Lotus and Universal Database. It will also support porting and testing activities using Linux, Windows, Macintosh and Solaris remote clients.

IBM Solution Partnership Centers in San Mateo, Calif. And Waltham, Mass. now offer the VPN, and IBM by years end will add its Hursley Lab in Winchester, U.K., its Stuttgart, Germany facility and its Sydney, Australia SPC. Other SPCs will be added next year according to demand for the secure remote access.

"We needed to come up with better ways of insuring privacy when developers work with us and make sure they can connect to the lab testing environments with tens or hundreds of machines not directly connected to the Internet," said Tim Robinson, IBM technical consultant for the SPC in San Mateo, Calif. "VPNs provide us with encryption and a way to build effective communication paths from our remote developers into our testing environments."

IBM took a "multi-pronged approach" to building the VPNs by using Citrix Systems Inc.s MetaFrame and Extranet VPN products as well as Nortel Networks Corp.s Contivity VPN Switches, and the Tarantella Enterprise 3 graphical user interface application extender. It supports access to Linux, AIX, OS/400 and OS/390 platforms.

Vesta Broadband Services Inc. used the VPN to test its IP-based video-over broadband delivery system and found it to be "tailor-made," according to Venky Adivi, executive vice president of the McKinney, Texas firm.

"Our engineers were actually in our own labs. They did the remote access link to the servers in their data center and saved quite a bit of time and money," he said.

IBM has worked hard over the past 18 to 24 months to support ISVs writing to its platforms, said John Madden, industry analyst at Summit Strategies Inc. in Boston.

"When IBM decided to get out of (developing their own applications) and focus on ISV partnerships, they set up the Developer Works Web site, put in lot of toolsets—theyve done a fairly good job of demonstrating their commitment to ISVs. Before that they were in a state of constant conflict," Madden said.