Big Blue goes small, and medium

IBM’s push at the small and medium business (SMB) market with its Express middleware software is part of a move comparable to the company’s strategic shift into services a decade ago, according to Steven Worrall, general manager, commercial sector, ANZ, IBM Australia.

Worrall defines the SMB sector as organisations of up 1000 employees, and says that worldwide IBM already draws revenues of $US87 billion from customers in this category. Globally, this is one fifth of total revenue, while in Australia organisations with 1000 (or fewer) employees bring in up to one third of the revenue, he added. This size category covers most Australian organisations, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics.

New middleware offerings include WebSphere Commerce Express and WebSphere MQ Express for application integration. These follow WebSphere Application Server Express, WebSphere Portal Express, DB2 Express, Tivoli Storage Resource Manager - Express, and Lotus Domino Utility Server – Express.

An IBM press release claims that WebSphere Commerce Express allows “businesses to start building an online store in as little as one hour - 30 per cent faster than Microsoft’s commerce software and at 25 per cent less cost”.

Duncan Hewett, regional manager, SMB software channels, IBM Australia, said that Express releases must pass an in-house certification process which includes providing a “less than five click install.” To wear the Express brand name the software must also meet minimum benchmarks for performance, ease of use and overall ease of ownership.

Express products will be supplied by channel partners either stand-alone or as part of hardware bundles. IBM’s press release did not include indicative entry-level pricing but did say that IBM Global Financing offers deals tailored for medium business customers.