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IBM Develops Channel-Only Software Packages Targeting Midmarket Customers

The appliances are the latest step in IBM's initiative to sell to midmarket customers only through the channel.

IBM is developing prepackaged IT systems for document management, desktop virtualization, and IT and application management for mid-market customers that will be sold exclusively through the channel.

IBM executives discussed plans for the new packages at the CRN Fast Growth conference in Boston Thursday. The company hasn't formally announced the products.

The company has a dedicated development team of some 100 programmers and engineers who are designing and assembling the new packages "where simplicity is really the guiding principle," said Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM's global midmarket business, in an interview at the conference.

The new offerings are the latest step in IBM's efforts to focus its midmarket sales efforts through the channel. In January IBM said it would rely on its solution provider partners to handle 100 percent of its midmarkets.

Thursday Monshaw and other IBM executives at the conference expressed their commitment to the channel-led strategy, saying midsize companies (which IBM defines as those with 1,000 or fewer employees) are an underserved market.

Next: Components Of The New "Solutions For Smart Business"

Dan Cerutti, general manager of IBM Smart Business, provided details of the new portfolio of packaged offerings during executive breakout sessions at the CRN conference.

The "Solutions for Smart Business" include pre-integrated applications and infrastructure software, such as database software and backup and recovery tools. Some are currently available as software-only bundles or packaged as appliances with IBM servers, with versions for Dell and Hewlett-Packard hardware in development.

Early next year IBM will offer the packages through its cloud computing services and, later in 2011, as virtual images.

The packages will be sold exclusively through the channel to midmarket businesses, priced on a per-seat, per-month basis. Cerutti said a key goal of the bundles is to help channel partners shorten the sales cycle.

One package, IBM Virtual Desktop for Smart Business, was jointly developed with Virtual Bridges, a virtualization technology company in Austin, Texas. Other packages include IBM Docs for Smart Business, a document management system; IBM Service Management for Smart Business, which incorporates Tivoli systems management software; and IBM Application Manager for Smart Business. Other packages are in development.

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