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IBM Boosts iSeries Commitment

Developers who focus on the iSeries platform got a long-awaited boost last week when IBM announced that it is greatly expanding its support for ISVs, tool providers and partners who write applications for its iSeries midrange platform.

Under the new program, called the IBM eServer iSeries Initiative for Innovation, IBM will provide up to $50,000 in incremental services to each of more than 2,500 application tool developers, to help them create solutions on the iSeries platform for mid-size clients. IBM will also support those developers by giving them access at no charge to IBM experts in Rochester, Minnesota, where the iSeries was first developed as the AS/400.

One company benefiting from the new program is BCD Software in Hinsdale, Illinois, an IBM business partner and new member of IBM's iSeries Developers Roadmap. "This is the best support from IBM I've seen in 25 years," according to Eric Figura, BCD's director of sales and marketing. His company's flagship product, WebSmart, competes with IBM Websphere, a fact he suspects has kept BCD from full public IBM support until now.

Like many iSeries ISVs, BCD targets the small to mid-size business market, but also counts Starbucks and Universal Music Group among its clients. "What we really like about the new announcement is that they've armed us with a ton of resources," Figura says. "I feel like I've got an ally. [IBM is] giving us resources, giving us recognition."

Figura is a longtime supporter of the venerable iSeries, citing its uptime reliability and security, especially with the eSeries i5, a midrange server that is the newest member of the iSeries family. "We love [IBM] hardware, especially the i5 and what they've done with it in the past two years."

But he's been frustrated by what he and others have seen as IBM's failure to market the iSeries. That seems to be changing with the new program, Figura says, citing not just IBM's announcement, but a four-page spread advertising the iSeries in Monday's Wall Street Journal. "It shows that they recognize that they can't rest on their laurels, that they have to market the product," he says.

Figura says he's seen results already from the new program and IBM's support. Within the last week, prospective customers have told him that since his company is now part of the iSeries Developers Roadmap, his product can now be considered "part of IBM's [official] stated direction...so they can consider it."

About the Author

Linda Briggs is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She can be reached at lbriggs@lindabriggs.com.

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