IBM Makes Expanded Data Warehouse Appliance Line Available To Resellers

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IBM also is offering new financing incentives -- totaling up to $500 million -- to attract Sun Microsystems partners into the IBM fold.

The IBM Smart Analytics System combines server hardware, software, storage and services into a single package that's pre-tuned for analyzing large volumes of data. The bundle includes IBM's Cognos business intelligence software and the InfoSphere Warehouse, a version of the company's DB2 database optimized for data warehousing applications.

IBM debuted the first Smart Analytics System, the model 7600, last July. That package was based on IBM's Power Systems servers running the company's AIX version of Unix. The new systems, the models 5600 and 9600, are based on IBM's System x (x86 microprocessors) and System z (mainframe) servers, respectively, said Bernie Spang, marketing director for IBM data management software, in an interview.

Like the model 7600, the new Smart Analytics System models allow businesses to mine both structured data in corporate databases and unstructured data such as documents and e-mails, analyze the data and serve up the results in reports and dashboards.

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The systems are specifically designed to run analytical applications common in such vertical industries as health care, financial services, energy and retail. Spang said the systems also tie into IBM's Smarter Planet initiative to provide IT for such applications as managing "smart" energy grids and traffic systems in real-time.

IBM also offers an optional solid-state drive with the systems, which the company said further increases the speed of data-intensive workloads.

The model 5600 Smart Analytics System is available today while the model 9600 will be available by the end of this quarter, Spang said.

IBM did not sell the Smart Analytics System through the channel when the model 7600 debuted. Spang said it took time to develop the channel program, including training and support, that goes with the product. But now the company will offer all of the models for sale through solution providers who can add vertical industry applications to the data warehouse systems and develop services around them.

"We think there will be a big market for this," said Matthew Castle, managing director at Perficient, a St. Louis-based IBM channel partner whose solution and service offerings include business intelligence, data analysis and content management systems. Perficient will offer the Smart Analytics System products to its customers.

Castle said IBM's appliance approach to data warehouse technology works well for Perficient's customer set. "All you have to do is add data and you're ready to go."

"The exponential growth in both the volume and complexity of data is creating unique challenges and opportunities for our customers," said Joe Rueda, solutions vice president at Forsythe Solutions Group, a Skokie, Ill.-based IBM partner, in a statement. He said the Smart Analytics System would help Forsythe customers "begin exploiting the power within their data."

IBM also debuted a pre-configured system designed to handle high-volume transactional workloads. The IBM PureScale Application System, incorporating WebSphere and DB2 software and based on Power7 technology, will be available later this quarter. But Spang said IBM had no immediate plans to sell the product through the channel.

IBM also said that its lending operation, IBM Global Financing, is offering up to $500 million in financing to help "credit-qualified" Sun business partners migrate towards becoming resellers of IBM Power systems.

Oracle acquired Sun in January and Oracle has begun selling directly to some of Sun's biggest accounts instead of making those sales through channel partners. IBM is trying to entice disaffected Sun resellers to become IBM partners and the company said its efforts have resulted in more than 100 Sun business partners either establishing new IBM reseller businesses or growing existing IBM-related businesses.

IBM is also making its online profit optimizer tool available to Sun channel partners free of charge. With the tool those solution providers can calculate their potential sales and profit gains from selling IBM products and services.