IBM is to give developers at start-up companies access to virtual workshops on Big Blue hardware and software. Although the company is specifically targeting developers in Brazil, China, India and Russia, its peers elsewhere in the world will also be able to access the courses from their desktops, according to IBM executives.
Last year, in emerging markets around the world, more than 400 developers a day signed up to join IBM's developer networks, IBM vice-president for independent software vendors and developer relations in emerging markets, Mark Hann, said.
Emerging markets were a key driver for IBM's bottom line, with the company growing its business in those regions by more than 25 per cent in 2004, equivalent to more than $US4 billion, Hanny said.
IBM was looking to increase its business in emerging markets by providing more developers with access to the facilities already offered at its 30-plus global innovation centres, Hanny said.
Individuals entering the centres can take workshops in a variety of IBM technologies mediated by experts in those fields. IBM is now creating what it terms virtual innovation centres providing 40 virtual courses facilitated by virtual mentors, often offered in a country's native language.
An individual can access the virtual workshop through a Web conference from their PCs, dialling into the lecture via phone or voice over Internet Protocol. IBM configures a customised remote environment for students so they can follow the lecture and the virtual mentor is on hand via phone, email or instant messaging.
Classes to be offered include how to build on the Linux operating system, developing with WebSphere Application Server, advanced portals, grid computing and Express middleware.
In order to qualify for the virtual workshops, a developer needed to join IBM's PartnerWorld public program and agreed they had an interest in building an application based on IBM software running on Linux, Hanny said. Then, the individual can go ahead and access the virtual workshops free of charge.
A workshop can last anywhere between two hours and three days, according to the IBM executive.
In future, IBM might consider using the virtual innovation centres concept as a way to certify developers on its software, Hanny said.
Big Blue would also look to target systems integrators as well as software developers in the future, he said.