IBM Preps Linux Package for Mid-sized Businesses

The new hardware/software combo package aims to supplant Windows in the small- and medium-sized business space.
Seeking to fill what it perceives as a gap in the marketplace, IBM Thursday rolled out a new Linux package for developers of the open-source operating system at its DeveloperWorks Live! 2003 show in New Orleans.

IBM Integrated Platform Express (code-named "Blue Ice"), a combination of the Armonk, N.Y. firm's hardware servers and application server and database software, is intended to lure Big Blue's resellers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to use it to write Linux applications that they may sell to their own customers in the mid-sized market. They may also simply test new applications with it.

The SMB market segment is one some research firms believe is particularly hungry for Linux: Gartner estimates some 45 percent of mid-sized businesses are using or experimenting with Linux. This makes sense because Linux is universally viewed as a cost-effective OS and SMBs are typically constrained by small budgets. Still, Microsoft's Windows OS remains the entrenched brand despite frequent attempts by Linux evangelists to hold sway over developers and companies.

The package is designed to help IBM partners to write business applications for such fields as e-commerce and customer relationship management to an integrated hardware and software product that includes IBM's Intel-based servers and IBM's Express software.

Integrated Platform Express includes WebSphere Application Server - Express, DB2 - Express and the IBM eServer x225, x235 or x345 systems, as well as disk storage. WebSphere - Express is designed for building Web sites and supports Linux, Java and XML. DB2 - Express is new database software with low per user pricing for the mid-market that can be pre-packaged with Partner applications. IBM eServer x225, x235 and x345 systems and correlative storage is geared to meet the needs of cost-concerned SMBs.

Along with the new package, IBM will be spreading its Linux message to the fullest for the masses at DeveloperWorks Live! 2003 Thursday, citing data from research group Evans Data that "developers are starting to use Linux instead of Windows as their development environment of choice." Reliability and low cost, Evans Data said, are the main factors.

Scott Handy, director, Linux Solution, IBM Software Group, said more than 44,000 ISV and corporate developers have created about 6500 Linux applications that run on IBM WebSphere, DB2, Lotus and Tivoli software. Handy and fellow IBM representatives plan to show how Linux is gaining momentum in the SMB market -- and elsewhere.

The IBM Integrated Platform Express will be available June 27, with a suggested retail price of under $4,000.






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