IBM Makes Play for Small, Midsize Businesses

IBM announces new software, hardware, services and financial offerings aimed at the $300 billion SMB marketplace.

NEW YORK—IBM Wednesday announced a new portfolio of products and services aimed specifically at the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market, including new software, hardware, services and financing offerings.

At an event here, the computer systems giant announced its bid to tap the $300 billion SMB marketplace.

"By sheer weight, the SMB market is one of the most important markets," said Marc Lautenbach, general manager of global small and medium business at IBM. According to analyst reports, Lautenbach said, the SMB market spends up to 60 percent of its budget on services, 30 percent on hardware and 10 percent on software.

IBM announced that its new offerings for the SMB market will go by the name Express and are aimed at medium-sized businesses—companies with between 100 and 1,000 employees.

As part of its Express software portfolio, IBM announced WebSphere Commerce Express, a smaller scale version of the WebSphere application server and DB2-Express. The company also announced WebSphere MQ-Express, a small-business version of IBMs MQ Series connectivity and integration software. WebSphere Commerce Express will start at $20,000 and will be available Sept. 30. WebSphere MQ-Express will start at $4,180 and will be available in the fourth quarter, said Mark Ouellette, vice president of IBMs worldwide SMB software sales.

The two new offerings join WebSphere Application Server Express, DB2 Express and WebSphere Portal Express, which IBM announced late last year.

Meanwhile, Ouellette gave a hint of future directions—"a sneak preview of the fall line," he joked. The company is looking to deliver Item Synchronization Express, Content Manager Express and a runtime beta—a modularized version of the IBM middleware stack, which will consist of runtime components to support ISV applications.