IBM Cultivates Smaller Businesses With New Solutions

IBM made moves to address the software development and management needs of small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) with a broad product launch. The company's new SMB products extend across its Rational and Tivoli management product lines mostly. However, some of the products represent technologies IBM gained from acquisitions completed within the last year.

The products are specifically targeted and optimized for mid-market companies with about 20 to 70 employees.

"We're looking to evolve beyond our heritage in the larger business segment," explained Scott Hebner, vice president of marketing and strategy, IBM Rational. He added that IBM has been aiming over the last couple of years toward helping businesses not just with in-house software development, but also with lifecycle management. The idea is to help companies successfully manage a broad spectrum of software and systems against business needs and govern the overall software lifecycle with its multiple change requests.

Leading the pack of new products is the IBM Rational Build Forge Express Edition. The product supports SMBs by providing a build-and-release management framework for developers that automates repetitive tasks, team handoffs and project documentation. It integrates with various integration development environments, such as IBM Rational Application Developer, Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and Eclipse.

IBM developed its Rational Build Forge Express Edition product after acquiring BuildForge last year. Rational Build Forge Express Edition will be available at the end of this month, priced at USD$49,000 per server. IBM plans to sell the product directly.

Another new SMB product is the IBM Tivoli Network Manager IP Entry Edition, an automatic network discovery and management solution. The product helps IT managers handle network performance and scalability issues.

SMBs can integrate Web application security with IBM's Watchfire AppScan solution. The company also offers a Web site compliance and risk management solution with Watchfire WebXM. The products derive, in part, from IBM's acquisition of Watchfire in July of this year. Watchfire AppScan is also available via a hosted software-a-service solution, enabling SMBs to outsource Web application security testing.

Other products in IBM's SMB solutions initiative are:

  • IBM Maximo, a solution for optimizing an SMB's assets in terms of performance and service levels;
  • IBM Rational Team Concert beta 1, an IBM Jazz technology-based collaborative portal, supporting agile software development;
  • IBM Rational Performance Tester 7.01 and IBM Rational Functional Tester 7.01; and
  • IBM Tivoli Consul Insight Manager, an IT system test product that provides views using a single dashboard console.

The company also plans to offer SMB-specific support through Web pages and chat.

IBM sees potential in the SMB market. Its announcement cited a forecast by Access Markets International Partners that predicts a 10 percent growth in IT spending by small and midsize businesses worldwide in 2007.

More information on IBM's SMB products can be found here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.