IBM kicked off its annual PartnerWorld conference on Monday by unveiling a number of new reseller programs, promising some US$100 million in marketing and co-marketing funds to partners, and giving a glimpse at two future technologies to the 6,000 business partners and resellers in attendance.
The first technology -- a prototype developed by IBM Research -- is the Meta Pad, a 3-inch-by-5-inch 9-ounce device that an IBM official hailed as the "ultimate personal server." The Meta Pad contains an 800MHz chip, a 10GB hard drive, a 3-D graphics chip, 128MB of memory, and is capable of running Windows XP.
The device, which supports Bluetooth, is designed to help give users access to all their data whether they are connected to their desktops or laptops, via a docking station or wirelessly over the Internet.
IBM officials said they have no plans to market the device, which was developed to help researchers better understand how users interact and use a variety of PCs. They said some of the technologies in the device could go into future computing devices.
The second technology is the Power5 chip, which officials said will be four times faster than the existing Power4 and will be available in both high- and low-end systems by the end of 2004. The Power5, code-named Armada, will reportedly have much better error detection and correction than the Power4. The upcoming chip will be capable of carrying out several tasks that are now run by software, such as a number of networking tasks.
Big Blue used the conference as a platform once again to push its On Demand computing initiative and its heavy emphasis on selling to small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). Several top executives pounded home their belief that on-demand computing can help business partners formulate a plan to help users transform their businesses and then design the processes and open IT environments that support it.
Underlining that commitment to SMBs, the company announced its Small and Medium Business Advantage program, which provides business partners with a number of incentives and tools to help them sell on-demand solutions to smaller companies.
Attempting to encourage business partners and developers to adopt Web services, IBM announced its Speed-start Web services, a program to help IT managers and WebSphere developers implement Web services on the WebSphere platform. Some resources that are part of the program include technical support forums, online education, the Web services Software Evaluation Kit that comes with a number of IBM development tools and middleware products, and a hands-on lab and lecture series.
The company also introduced the WebSphere Business Integration Accelerators for Business Partners, which offers a range of resources and expertise to help partners build solutions that integrate with other applications through the WebSphere Business Integration platform.