IBM goes after SMBs with Unix servers

Continuing its steady push to win over the hearts and wallets of midsize companies, IBM this week is rolling out two lower-priced Unix-based servers that will go head-to-head with offerings from archrivals Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard.

Powered by IBM's Power5 processor, the two-way eServer p5-520 and p5-550, which have base prices of US$3,993 and US$7,050, respectively, come bundled with advanced security and a variety of integration software. The integration software is intended to allow smaller, underfunded IT shops to more easily consolidate multiple servers, applications, and operating systems -- including Linux and IBM's AIX5L -- onto a single server.

"We are trying to provide midmarket users with something we don't think they have had before, namely the flexibility to grow their businesses without significantly taxing their smaller IT staffs and budgets," said Karl Freund, vice president of product marketing for the systems and technology group at IBM.

In a related announcement, IBM also unveiled the IBM Express Security Solution for eServer, as well as expanded Power5 resources for software vendors. The new services and resources will be available through the IBM Virtualization Innovation Center for hardware and the IBM Virtual Loaner Program, an IBM representative said.

Again, the new offerings are aimed at enticing midsize businesses that want to consolidate and migrate applications and to integrate system resources as attempts to create more efficient IT operations, an IBM representative said.

The IBM Security Express Solution for eServer, which is based on open source code, is designed to offer security and intrusion protection and collaboration to those organizations that want to establish links for such end-to-end solutions but that do not have the human or financial resources to do it on their own. It includes a VPN, mail gateway, virus scanning, spam filtering, and internal and external firewalls.

IBM officials said they will position both products to be used for scalable database servers, as well as for ERP, CRM, and departmental or regional e-commerce applications in industries such as retail, banking, and financial services.

IBM this week will also unwrap its Customer Value Paks for the p5-520 and p5-550, which are intended to help smaller shops more quickly configure the systems. Available from IBM.com or through authorized resellers, users can buy the systems starting Oct. 29.

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