IBM continued its foray into the world of mid-sized businesses with the announcement Wednesday of another Express product designed to make it easier for users to integrate existing IT systems, business processes and applications.
The IBM Express Portfolio currently consists of more than 60 products that have been designed to accommodate smaller budgets and staffs of the SMB market.
According to IBM, WebSphere Business Integration Server Express uses a range of customizable adapters and pre-packaged process templates that tie together a user's existing IT environment, including resident customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, Web-enabled product catalogues, e-commerce sites and employee portals.
Business process integration continues to be one of the single-greatest challenges facing mid-sized companies. According to IBM market research, more than 75% of mid-size businesses operate in heterogeneous computing environments. At a time when industry standards, supplier IT mandates and government regulations are driving new levels of inside-out integration, many SMBs are still coping with how to integrate their own processes and systems before looking externally.
Mark Ouelette, IBM's vice president of worldwide SMB software sales, said over 40% of the medium-sized businesses market is now into the integration phase.
"We try to provide products to meet the needs of those customers," he said.
Allowing IT departments to keep existing legacy systems was a key part of Server Express.
"We do not want to 'rip and replace' legacy systems," Ouelette said. This approach allows mid-sized companies to control their existing IT investments while reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) for both current and future integration products.
Scott Cosby, program director for WebSphere Business Integration, said that all the tools a customer needs are included with the product, and that the system uses GUI drag and drop with "little to no programming" involved on the part of the user.
The WebSphere Business Integration Express product will be available May 14 for Windows, Linux and iSeries platforms for $5,999 per processor.