IBM Adds To Midmarket Offerings With Systems Management Appliances

IBM is also offering new financing and other "migration resources" to convince business owners of Oracle database and middleware software to switch to competing IBM products

The Tivoli appliances, with pre-integrated components and usage-based pricing, are the latest in a series of announcements IBM has made in recent months as the company ramps up its midarket sales efforts. IBM relies exclusively on the channel to sell to midmarket businesses, which IBM defines as companies with 1,000 or fewer employees.

Such companies "have the same wants, needs, desires and requirements as large companies. They just don't have the same [IT] capabilities," said Andy Monshaw, IBM general manager of mid-market, in a phone interview. IBM unveiled its plans for the channel-only appliances at the CRN Fast Growth conference in October.

The midmarket IBM appliances include a VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) package that IBM said has been a popular product. "All indications are that the strategy is working," Monshaw said.

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The new appliances, Applications Manager for Smart Business and Service Manager for Smart Business, are based on IBM's Tivoli monitoring and service management software and are tailored and priced for mid-sized companies with limited IT staffs. The packages include best-practice templates and pre-defined reports.

The Application Manager for Smart Business provides IT asset discovery and network monitoring capabilities, as well as the ability to monitor such IT system elements as databases, mail servers and virtual servers. It offers centralized, real-time views of IT environments and helps IT managers pre-empt problems and reduce risks.

The Service Manager for Smart Business offers service desk capabilities for IT service, incident and problem management processes. IBM said the appliance helps connect service management "silos" using automated capabilities, improving response times and data availability.

Under the initiative to recruit Oracle customers IBM Global Financing is offering zero-percent financing for 12 months to qualified Oracle customers who trade their Oracle software for IBM products.

New migration services are designed to encourage customers to switch from, say, the Oracle Database to IBM's DB2 and the Oracle WebLogic application server to IBM WebSphere. IBM will provide a free financial analysis and technical evaluation to determine how a company can make the switch and at what cost (or with what cost-savings, as IBM put it).

IBM is also offering online and in-person training to provide customers with DB2 and WebSphere skills and will develop proof-of-concept systems onsite or within an IBM lab to compare its products with Oracle's.