IBM Pilots SMB Software Bundle

First being tested in Canadian market

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IBM released a pilot software package for small businesses through Canadian business partners to continue its assault on Microsoft in the SMB market, CRN has learned.

The package,a bundle of software called BizPak,could be offered either independently or as part of IBM's Start Now partner program in the United States if the pilot is successful in Canada, an IBM spokesperson said.

BizPak is aimed at small businesses rather than the midmarket, which is mainly where Start Now solutions play, the spokesperson said.

The offerings included in Start Now and another SMB offering IBM is developing, WebSphere Express, are priced more for the midmarket than small businesses.

Mark Halwa, founder and president of solution provider Sandbox Systems, Calgary, Alberta, said that BizPak is a great deal for the "lower end of the SMB market" and in fact can only be sold to companies with 100 to 999 employees.

Under the BizPak terms, customers receive a package of software with products from each of IBM's software brands at a cost of $500 Canadian ($316 U.S.) per user, Halwa said.

BizTalk includes Lotus Notes with Collaboration; Domino Application Server; Lotus SameTime; Tivoli's Identity Manager, Access Manager and Storage Manager products; WebSphere Application Server; WebSphere Studio; DB2 Universal Database EE; and IBM Office Connect.

A company with 100 employees would pay about $151,000 Canadian ($96,300 U.S.) if it was to buy all of the BizPak technology separately, but only $50,000 Canadian ($31,800 U.S.) for BizPak, garnering savings of 67 percent, according to Halwa.

Similarly, he said, a 999-person company would pay $840,000 Canadian ($535,000 U.S.) for the package the standard way, but only $499,000 Canadian ($318,000 U.S.) for BizPak, a savings of 41 percent.

Randall Chilson, an independent consultant based in Watertown, S.D., called BizPak a "huge discount," but said he worried that IBM would "drop the ball" on BizPak the way it did with a similar SMB product, OS/2.

OS/2, targeted at Microsoft Windows, did well in Europe and in the banking industry but wasn't really successful in the U.S. market, he said.

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