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Big Blue unveils more Express bundles

IBM's on the "Express" fast track and has introduced more integrated offerings for SMBs.

IBM is continuing its campaign to repackage technology and bundle tools, both new and old, into ready-to-go products for the midmarket customer.

IBM said today that it has expanded its "Express" line of products and services, which targets small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Big Blue announced more than 10 new offerings focused on integration and information management.

Earlier this week, IBM's business consulting services unit said it would pool its resources -- hardware, software and services -- and repurpose tools for customers trying to cope with looming federal regulatory deadlines.

The offerings announced today are the latest in a growing portfolio that now includes new WebSphere software for integrating business processes and a services offering for Web analytics, as well as ISV solutions, Express Ready eServer systems, storage solutions and ThinkPads.

Integration is the key to this offering, said Joann Duguid, IBM's vice president for small and medium-sized business solutions. "The point is to offer as much integration in the bundle as possible, so they don't have to do their own integration," she said.

The company also announced it has reached agreements with more than 100 independent software vendors (ISVs) that will now become part of Big Blue's ISV Advantage initiative, which is a key delivery channel for the Express offerings.

IBM continues to build momentum for its strategy to focus on the specific needs of medium-sized businesses. Since January, IBM has rolled out a number of Express products, including bundled versions of iSeries hardware.

Earlier this month, it announced DB2 Content Manager Express, which is part of the new package IBM is touting today.

These bundled offerings aren't right for everyone, said Laurie McCabe, an analyst with the Boston-based Summit Strategies. "But it's [IBM] packaging things up so customers have this fixed solution," she said. "The big message that IBM wants to send is that they're focused with the ISV to bring complete solutions in a predictable pricing structure, and I think that's a pretty good message."

The following products are now being offered as part of IBM's Express portfolio:

WebSphere Business Integration - Express for Item Synchronization is specifically designed to help medium-sized businesses link their supply chain information to the UCCnet Global Registry, a supply chain resource used by a number of major retailers, including Wal-Mart. The offering is standards-based, meaning it can also be used to integrate item information to other emerging standards that retailers may conform to. Starting at $7,000, the new offering will be available for the Windows platform next week and for others, such as the OS/400 and Linux, in December.

DB2 Content Manager Express enables customers to capture, manage, store and protect all forms of business information while delivering content to users when and where they need it. The new software was generally available Oct. 14, 2003, and is priced at $9,375 per server and $1,063 per concurrent user.

IBM SurfAid Express allows medium-sized businesses track buyer behavior on the Web. The new service provides rapid feedback on on-site traffic, marketing campaigns, visitor geographies, site navigation, site design effectiveness, visitor loyalty and site stickiness. The product is available now, starting at $100 per month from IBM Global Services.

IBM Express Life Sciences SAS BioBundle is specifically designed for midsized life sciences firms. It combines SAS' application software with IBM pSeries and xSeries servers, and with installation and implementation services from IBM Global Services.

IBM Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Express expands its benefits beyond the engineering department, enabling medium-sized manufacturers to reuse parts, simplify product complexity, streamline bid preparation and provide improved product maintenance. IBM PLM Express offers four packaged solutions based on Smarteam from Dassault Systemes and includes IBM WebSphere Application Server Express, IntelliStations and eServer systems.

IBM Express Ready Offerings include eServer systems such as the xSeries 225, pSeries 615 and iSeries 800, as well as storage hardware like the Fast-T200. The tools are backed by IBM Express services options and IBM Global Financing.

IBM Think Express Program includes Express models of ThinkPad notebooks and ThinkCentre desktop personal computers, with ThinkVantage technologies designed to support midmarket companies' budgets. ThinkPad Express models start at $849, with new Express models of the recently announced ThinkPad R50 and T41 notebooks starting at $1669. ThinkCentre Express desktop models start at $449.


Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Kate Evans-Correia, Senior News Editor.

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