IBM aims low with mainframes

Trying to appeal more to midsize accounts, IBM this week will launch a new series of "desk-side" mainframe systems bundled with software suites that enable users and resellers to create several application-specific solutions.

The IBM S/390 Multiprise 3000 series, which has the same G5 technology used in IBM's high-end mainframes, will be bundled with preconfigured and tested software for a variety of electronic-business projects including Net.Commerce for OS/390, WebSphere for OS/390, and Lotus Domino R5 for OS/390.

Hardware, software, maintenance, and support are included in the pricing for all three systems, which starts at about $US250,000 and can range up to $1 million, depending on the configuration.

IBM believes this approach, a departure from its traditional MIPS-based pricing on the rest of the Systems/390 line, streamlines and simplifies buying and selling for its users and resellers.

One user was impressed with the system's design -- which can be put on wheels, moved from office to office, and plugged in to wall outlets -- as well as its price-performance ratio when used for running Web-based mission-critical applications.

"It probably gives us a little more incentive to hurry along some Web-based applications we are thinking of deploying on their higher-end mainframes," said Joe Reynolds, a systems designer at a regional insurance company, in Iowa.

IBM repackaged the chips used in its G5-based mainframes into smaller form factors. The new systems are still capable of running traditional mainframe versions of applications such as CICS, MQSeries, IMS, DB2, and SAP.

The Start Now for Net.Commerce for OS/390 package includes Net.Commerce Server; Net.Commerce Administrator, for creating online product templates and interactive product catalogs; Net.Data DLL, which offers Web access to DB2; and Payment Server, which manages the customer-payment process for products.

Start Now for Websphere for OS/390 empowers users to gravitate from Web-publishing applications to interactive e-business applications. The product can also turn existing Web servers into Java-enabled Web-application servers, thereby simplifying the creation of new e-business workloads.

Start Now for Lotus Domino R5 for OS/390 helps users create collaborative applications for use on the Internet and intranets, and will help streamline business processes, company officials said. Users have more flexibility because Domino R5 supports several messaging clients and server platforms.

IBM plans to offer, by year's end, an enterprise resource planning -bundled solution for the new systems tailored to midsize accounts, company officials said.

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