IBM, Lion to put bioscience on the Web

IBM and Lion Bioscience AG will jointly provide subscription-based hosted computing services over the Internet to life science companies, the companies announced Tuesday.

IBM of Armonk, New York, will offer Lion Hosted Services, a product offering developed by Lion of Heidelberg, Germany, along with its own software and computing power, via an IBM hosting center to companies in the U.S., Europe and parts of Asia, the companies said in a joint statement.

Applications available include Lion's SRS and DiscoveryCenter and IBM's DiscoveryLink data integration products, Andrea Kreisselmeier, vice president of corporate communications for Lion said Wednesday.

Lion previously distributed its software through an ASP (application service provider) but has now finished that relationship, she said.

SRS gives access to over 600 scientific databases including GenBank, Medline, SwissProt and Derwent. DiscoveryCenter allows biological, chemical and preclinical data from internal and external sources to be linked, and DiscoveryLink makes it easy to search different data types and consolidate the results, according to the statement.

IBM has been building its life sciences business for two years now and the department has grown from two employees to 400, an IBM spokeswoman said Wednesday. This deal allows IBM to combine its e-business capabilities with Lion's life sciences expertise, she said.

To date, two customers have signed up for the service, Kreisselmeier said. "We hope to secure 30 more in the next 12 months through the strengths of IBM's sales force. We have a very limited sales force and we have concentrated on larger companies." The IBM deal and the lower cost of entry now available will make the offer attractive to smaller companies, she said.

Customers will pay an annual subscription of between US$50 and $75,000, Kreisselmeier said. They can also buy and run the software themselves, she said, "but that would be much more expensive, as they would have to buy all the software, all the hardware and pay someone to run it."

IBM's spokeswoman said that the pricing will depend on the number of seats being licensed and the applications being used.

The products will be available by the fourth quarter, 2002, IBM's spokeswoman said.

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