IBM adds 10 new Express products

IBM Corp. on Friday continued its hot pursuit of the mid-market, adding 10 new offerings to its Express line of products and services, most of which are intended to improve integration and information management capabilities in hopes of making it easier for IT shops to establish on demand computing environments.

Chief among the new offerings is WebSphere Business Integration Express for Item Synchronization that allows mid-size companies to better link supply chain information to the UCCnet Global Registry. This helps further automate the codes used to identify and describe products. The new offering includes a process integration collaboration that can send and receive data to a third-party registry, a company spokesman said.

Alco Industries, a mid-sized importer of home accessories, has been using WebSphere to connect data contained in host-based systems to its Web-based applications. This has enabled them to connect to the supply chain of their customers. Company officials think the new offering will prove constructive in moving their on demand initiative forward.

"We see that being responsive to our customer's requirements is an important part of doing business in the on demand era," said Warren Vogel, chief financial officer of Alco Industries Inc. "We think the new WebSphere is the type of solution we've been looking for as we move forward with connecting to the UCCnet."

Available starting next week, pricing on the WebSphere product starts at US$7,000 for the Windows version. Editions that work with Linux and IBM's OS/400 operating systems are expected by the end of this year, a company spokesman said.

As part of Friday's rollout IBM officials said they expect that mid-size business will spend US$100 billion on integration technologies and services in the next three years.

IBM also rolled out its DB2 Content Manager Express, a product that enables customers to capture, manage, and protect business information while at the same time delivering content to users when and where they need it. The new package is supposed to both simplify and automate content management requirements such as installation and configuration. This would help lighten the work load of administrators working in small IT departments.

The new software is now available and costs US$9,375 per server and US$1,063.00 per concurrent user.

A third product, called the IBM Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Express,aims to provide to benefits beyond an engineering department by better enabling mid-size manufacturers to reuse parts, or to simplify product complexity, and streamline bid preparation and provide improved product maintenance. The offering includes four packaged solutions based on SMARTEAM from Dassault Systemes and also includes IBM WebSphere Application Server.

"The life cycle product allows SMB users to understand the analytics behind the Web. One of the ways medium-size companies are trying to integrate with customers is through the Internet, and so this is a set of tools that allows them to optimize performance and to track buyer behavior and loyalty. It allows them to become more of an on demand operation," said Marc Lautenbach, general manager of IBM's Small and Medium Size Division, in White Plains, New York.

A fourth product is the IBM Think Express Program, which includes Express versions of the company's ThinkPad notebook systems, the ThinkCentre desktop systems. The systems include the Active Protection System, an "airbag for notebooks" that helps protect data if a ThinkPad T41 or R50 notebook is dropped, as well as Rapid Restore Ultra, which restores data, applications, and settings after a software failure.

The ThinkPad Express models start at US$849, with new Express models of the recently announced ThinkPad R50 and T41 notebooks starting at $1,669. Pricing of the ThinkCentre Express desktop models start at US$449.

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