Big Blue thinks small -- and medium

Having catered to developers and business partners focused on corporate accounts with several product announcements at its recent developerWorks Live conference, IBM turned its attention to the other end of the market yesterday with a new program and product bundles aimed at small and medium-size business (SMB) accounts.

IBM announced that its eServer Integrated Platform for e-Business, to be delivered and supported through the company's business partners, is intended to help smaller companies quickly build and implement Linux-based solutions around SuSE Linux AG's version of the open-source operating system.

The integrated bundle is built around IBM's eServer xSeries and includes the latest version of IBM's WebSphere Application Server, designed to support Web services and the DB2 database for Linux. The platform supports a range of Java-based applications, including those for finance, retail, e-commerce , telecommunications and manufacturing.

The integrated Platform for e-Business supplies business partners with a "blueprint" of software and hardware configurations; instructions for proposing, implementing and extending end-to-end solutions; development tools; and financing options.

IBM officials said it will include other IBM eServers as part of the bundle, which they believe will give business partners opportunities to sell higher-end e-business solutions.

In concert with the Integrated Platform announcement, IBM also announced a retooled version of its Start Now Solutions Proven initiative intended to create new revenue opportunities for business partners selling e-business-oriented solutions into the SMB market.

The program is intended to disseminate information on development structure and implementation methodology, and provide an SMB e-business solution focus to IBM's development community concentrating on WebSphere, DB2, Lotus and Tivoli.

Other benefits include access to IBM's sales channel of business partners, who are certified on the four underlying platforms, which allows developers to leverage the Start Now series of e-business solutions and thereby extend the scope and function of any solution offering with minimal resources or cost.

"The Start Now Solutions Proven provides a good framework for expanding our reach to SMB customers through IBM's trained solution providers who are knowledgeable about this growing market segment," said Robert DeMaio, CEO of Relavis, an IBM business partner.

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