Bits + Bytes

IBM expands midmarket software

IBM has added to its Express line of software for midsized businesses with 22 new products in areas including security, supply chain management and backup and recovery. IBM is among several vendors that have been targeting smaller businesses in addition to their traditional enterprise customer base. Others include SAP and Oracle. Analysts have cautioned that smaller businesses have specific needs from software and little expertise with which to customize it. Perhaps in response, IBM said most of the new products released this month aim to meet specific needs in two market sectors: retail and industrial. IBM estimates the midmarket is worth $US360 billion a year, not exactly small change.

Navision pack released

Microsoft has released a service pack for Navision that adds a new portal to the suite of business management software.

Service Pack 1 for Navision 4.0 includes the Microsoft Navision Employee Portal, which is built from the integration between Navision and both Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server, according to Microsoft. The portal provides a Web interface employees can access to work with business information within Navision. The service pack also includes enhancements to better integrate Navision 4.0 with Microsoft Office, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Small Business Server.

App acceleration

F5 Networks and Citrix Systems this week are expected to launch software and hardware products targeted at small and large businesses that want to speed up and secure Web-based applications. F5 is introducing a Web application firewall module for its application switches, with the promise of adding greater levels of data protection and security for e-commerce applications. F5's new rival Citrix is launching an application acceleration box under its recently acquired NetScaler brand, aimed at speeding up and securing small and midsize server farms.

Vodafone deal

Vodafone Australia has announced an aggressive foray into the business market by offering free handsets and communications devices to Business Cap customers. The new deal allows Vodafone customers to eliminate the upfront investment in mobile devices by committing to a 24-month contract. The move is in response to customer demand for contracts that deliver free mobile hardware.

Open source offering

A four-year-old company is using open source software as the foundation for an ERP suite targeted at small and midsize manufacturers.

OpenMFG this week plans to release Version 1.2 of its software, which goes by the same name as the company and includes some 200 changes from the earlier version. The changes reflect the fact that users get the complete source code for the various OpenMFG modules and can make changes that get incorporated into the suite. The suite was designed for manufacturers. Rival products include Microsoft Business Solutions.

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