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The computer vendor wooing of small to mid-size business (SMB) customers continued today, with IBM's announcement of new software designed to provide those growing companies with the kinds of tools normally only available to enterprises.
IBM said it plans to avoid the mistakes of other products aimed at the SMB market, which have fallen short of expectations because they're just enterprise products that have been crippled. The potential for the right products is big. According to a survey by AMR research, SMBs plan to increase their IT budgets by nearly 6% this year, double the growth rate projected for large enterprises. Another research firm, Access Markets International - Partners, forecasts worldwide IT spending by small and mid-sized businesses will grow by 10 percent in 2007.
"We're not new to SMB and we don't want them to think they are getting a dumbed down enterprise solution," Michelle Grieshaber, director of SMB marketing for IBM's Tivoli unit told InternetNews.com. "We want customers to recognize we've been in this space for a long time, we've been successful and engaging them in terms they understand."
Grieshaber said the design of these products is modular and scalable. "You can see a growth path so you know you can grow and not have to throw it out in a year and a half. You've got a lot of headroom in this product," she said.
Among the new products is IBM Rational Build Forge Express Edition, a software development environment tuned for SMBs with a small development staff. This is IBM's first Express line of products in the SMB market. It's designed to help standardize and automate repetitive tasks, manage compliance mandates and foster information-sharing.
There are two other Rational products in the works as well. IBM Rational Team Concert, Beta 1 is being released for open testing. Rational Team Concert is a collaborative portal for software teams to work together, while IBM Rational Performance Tester 7.01 and IBM Rational Functional Tester 7.01 are geared toward helping test the scalability, reliability and quality of applications while they are in development.
Another new tool is Tivoli Network Manager IP Entry Edition, an infrastructure management system designed to make it easier to give a mid-sized business an accurate picture of network performance in real time. The software can scale as the network grows and also allows IT staff to see a visual layout of their infrastructure, so as to help them grow without choking or bottlenecking their system.
As a supplement to its Tivoli product line, IBM is releasing IBM Tivoli Consul Insight Manager, which provides "auditor-in-a-box" capabilities to test IT systems compliance from a single dashboard console.
IBM is also releasing Watchfire AppScan and Watchfire Web XM, which it acquired this past July. These tools help manage security, compliance and business policy vulnerabilities by mitigating risk associated with data breaches and reducing costs by automating manual processes. Another acquisition, Maximo software from MRO, is being released. Maximo is a productivity optimization tool for managing assets and processes.
Finally, IBM set up a customer site with information on all of these products and guides to which ones a SMB might need in its environment.
IBM Rational Build Forge Express Edition will be available October 23 at a price of $49,000 per server, IBM said. The company did not disclose the prices for the other products.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.