IBM Takes CDP To Online Retail Channel

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In a major departure for IBM, the company is taking a product into retail. The company today is starting to offer the IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files software through a number of online retailers, including the Web sites of Circuit City, CompUSA, Office Max and Staples, among others.

The software costs $35 per end user. The goal is to make the CDP software available to consumers for the first time, according to company officials.

The release of CDP for Files, which will be offered for download only via Digital River's online software distribution service, marks the first time in awhile IBM has pitched customers via the retail channel. Company officials say the move will not undercut its VAR and solution-provider partners because they don't target individual end users. Business partners can offer online sales through Digital River as well, IBM says.

"They don't sell to ma and pa, or even the tiny SOHOs of the world," says Chris Stakutis, CTO for IBM's emerging storage products business and the developer of the software. "We are not taking any bread away from them."

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For VARs, the increased visibility of IBM's CDP offering will also help. Most solution providers see the software as a means of entry into a customer account to offer a broader solution, not to make a few dollars margin on the software licenses, he says.

Stakutis did not say whether IBM plans to offer the software into traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores. Other backup and recovery products, including EMC's popular Retrospect, are offered in stores.

The idea for IBM to offer CDP for Files via online retailers came after numerous customers were asking to buy the software for their families and friends.

"We said, 'Why turn down that money?'" Stakutis says. "Anyone that uses a computer we think is a viable opportunity to use this product."

If this is successful, it could serve as a model for taking other products to the consumer channels, Stakutis says.

"This will be a pioneer product for us in a model we haven't attempted in many years," Stakutis says. "If this does as well as it looks like it will, I think we will have other products or other versions of existing products that will follow on."

Since releasing CDP for Files, IBM has added numerous new features, Stakutis says. Among them are support for individual e-mail files, support for a broader range of target devices and the ability to back up files on Web servers.