IBM Corp [IBM] has announced another batch of so-called Express products and bundles that it is using to drive sales into small and mid-sized businesses and to retain the loyalty of its reseller and independent software vendor customers.
With everybody chasing the small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) market, which is growing its IT purchases at twice the rate of the enterprise market which IBM leads, the Express offerings are IBM’s and its partners’ best chance of competing as one against many other players.
The idea behind the Express products is simple: SMBs don’t need the biggest machines, the most feature-laden software, or the most sophisticated services. Neither do they want to cope with three different divisions of IBM, plus resellers for these three different divisions as well as third party application suppliers. They want to buy a single solution from a single point of contact, and they want to get IBM support standing behind it.
In IBM’s eServer line, an Express server is a preconfigured machine that is ready to go, right out of the box, to support IBM’s Express software offerings.
An express machine sometime includes a discount off list price for a specific configuration to just do away with the whole bargaining game – this is true with the pSeries Express machines, for instance.
IBM’s xSeries 225, 235, and 335 servers, its BladeCenter blade servers, its iSeries Model 800 and 810 servers, and its pSeries 615, 630, and 655 servers are all designated Express-ready.
IBM has not yet designated a zSeries machine as Express-ready, but it could do so with the entry zSeries 800 Raptor server, or it could designate Linux partitions on any size zSeries mainframe as Express-ready.
Similarly, Linux partitions on big pSeries and iSeries boxes could receive this Express-ready designation, and therefore be eligible for the Express solution bundles that IBM is beginning to roll out. IBM is also designating certain models of its ThinkPad notebook and ThinkCentre desktop PCs as Express-ready machines, too.
On the software front, IBM started launching the Express products in early summer. It is now pushing bundled solutions that ride on top of its Express hardware and software setups, working with ISVs to address specific problems that SMB companies (those with fewer than 999 employees is what IBM calls an SMB) deal with on a day-to-day basis.
A key component of the whole Express push is Big Blue’s ISV Advantage initiative, a $500 million co-marketing push IBM has to help those ISVs who agree to sell IBM’s servers, operating systems, database, and middleware products as the foundation of their own solutions.
Over 2,000 ISVs have been through an Express early-enablement program in the past six months, over 350 ISV applications have been tweaked to run on Express configurations of IBM’s servers and software, and over 100 ISVs have signed up for the Advantage initiative. Given the amount of co-marketing money IBM is shelling out, any reseller or partner that plays in the SMB space will be trying to get in on the Advantage initiative. They will have to in order to hold parity with other resellers and to compete against resellers of solutions Microsoft [MSFT], Hewlett-Packard [HPQ], and Sun Microsystems [SUNW].
WebSphere Business Integration-Express for Item Synchronization, is aimed at mid-sized businesses to help them link their supply chain information to an UCCnet GlobalRegistry. The initial package is available on IBM xSeries Windows platforms, with the whole package (hardware and software) having a starting price of $7,000.
DB2 Content Manager Express, is, as its name suggests, a trimmed down version of IBM’s DB2 Content Manager, which stores all kinds of unstructured information and documents in the DB2 database. This program is available on most IBM platforms, and costs $9,375 per server or $1,063 per concurrent user. IBM is not offering a particular hardware/software bundle for this product.
SurfAid Express is really a service offering, not a hardware or software product, and it is aimed at mid-sized businesses who want to try to make sense out of what customers are doing on their Web sites to try to understand their customers and drive more sales. It has a starting price of $100 per month, presumably for a very simple Web site.
Express Life Sciences SAS BioBundle is aimed at life sciences companies and research institutions that want to do a better job analyzing their big data warehouses. A five-user bundle on the xSeries platform has a starting price of $33,370, while a 25-user bundle on the pSeries servers costs $133,680. This offering is available immediately in North America, and will be rolled out worldwide.
Product Lifecycle Management Express is being rolled out with Dassault Systems, a long-time IBM partner in the computer-aided engineering and design markets (and one of the biggest drivers of RS/6000 and pSeries sales). This PLM Express bundle runs on xSeries and pSeries servers and Intellistation workstations; it is comprised of IBM’s WebSphere Express application server and four different packagings of Dassault’s SmarTeam PLM software.
This article was based on material originally published by ComputerWire.