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At conference, IBM pushes on-demand

At the spring COMMON conference in Indianapolis this week, users got a glimpse of the role the iSeries plays -- and will play -- in IBM's e-business on-demand strategy.

INDIANAPOLIS - E-business on-demand is one aspect of IBM's on-demand computing initiative. More important, however, said Al Zollar, the newly appointed general manager of the iSeries division, it is what companies need to implement in order to have a successful Web business.

Whereas, at first, companies needed to just have a presence and then be able to do small transactions, now they need to be more responsive, he said.

"Companies need to make sure IT and the business infrastructure respond to changes in demands. They have to be resilient and focused," he said.

Zollar spoke on Monday during the COMMON user conference held this week.

To help companies do that, IBM has four features included in its on-demand initiative: integration, open standards, virtualization and autonomic computing. Cecelia Marrese, vice president for marketing for the iSeries, said the iSeries already has some of these things for the midmarket, said Marrese during a separate interview at COMMON.

"Under virtualization, we have virtualized disk," she said. "LPAR is also part of that concept, so is capacity on/off demand. We're going to take all of these things farther. So this isn't really a new thing; it's just a logical step of e-business."

That means if a company has a surge in demand, such as with its e-commerce site during holiday shopping, it should be able to increase capacity as needed and then turn it off when the demand disappears, Marrese said.

A significant part of IBM's initiative regarding the iSeries is the inclusion of middleware that runs across all systems, Zollar said. He added that this is starting to happen with the enterprise editions of the new iSeries servers. Including open middleware such as WebSphere, DB2, and products from Lotus and Tivoli puts the iSeries squarely in the middle of the initiative, he said. "The iSeries is the premier implementer of e-business on-demand."

Not just for the big guys

Users shouldn't think that IBM's on-demand computing initiative is just for large companies that have a large e-commerce business, said Joann Duguid, vice president of eServer for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) at IBM.

"All of the concepts of e-business on-demand are extremely pertinent to SMBs," she said. "These customers want to pay for what they use and only what they use. They want to be on the Web, and they want it to be cost-effective. And they can afford less [than larger companies] to have their systems go down."

SMBs will also be seeing "solutions" rather than individual pieces that they need to install, configure and implement separately. The difference is those solutions will include tools that are scaled back, such as WebSphere Express, DB2 Express and Tivoli Express products, Duguid said.

Software pricing issues raised

The idea of being able to add a processor whenever you need to through capacity on-demand sounds great to users, but some software vendors said it creates a pricing problem for them that they're unsure how to handle.

"Most companies pay for software based on the number and size of the processors they run the software on, or CPW," said COMMON attendee Jack Valle, customer account manager at Extol, a provider of EDI integration software for the iSeries based in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

"What happens when they call up IBM and say give me another processor? Right now we don't know the correct way to price our products for the fluctuating processor size. Do we create a day rate? And how should that impact software maintenance, which is normally based on system value?"

COMMON attendee Simon O'Sullivan, director of sales at Maximum Availability, Auckland, New Zealand echoed that response. "We're grappling with this now," he said. "You can't really say for nine months of the year running on one CPU you pay this amount, and then have another price for the remaining months. We'll have to figure something out and work it into our pricing model."


COMMON: New products

COMMON coverage Fall 2002

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