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IBM Aims For Midrange Gains With iSeries ISV Program

IBM is launching a major effort Friday to help software partners and tool developers create the next generation of software for its midrange eServer iSeries platform -- an initiative, the company says, that aims to establish IBM as the leader in server share for the small- and midsize-business (SMB) market.

The program, called the IBM eServer iSeries Initiative for Innovation, provides services to ISVs and developers that include free access to IBM's Rochester, N.Y., labs and personnel, an expanded portfolio of tools, discounted funding for co-marketing advertising, and a loaner program. With an outlay of as much as $50,000 available to more than 2,500 ISVs and tool developers that specialize on iSeries, plus its own internal costs to kickstart the program, IBM's investment could top $125 million.

"By expanding our support from hundreds to thousands of iSeries partners, IBM expects to open up a floodgate of innovation from third-party software vendors and developers who are eager to create on demand applications for the rapidly growing small and medium business market." said Mark Shearer, general manager, IBM eServer iSeries. "We wanted to smash the barriers that stood in our partners' way -" no matter what development path they choose -" and accelerate their ability to deliver critical innovation such as RFID, web services, portals and personalization to iSeries customers around the globe."

The payoff for IBM? One is increased relationships with partners and their customers that will hopefully translate down the road into sales of iSeries servers and IBM middleware products such as WebSphere and Domino, says Doug Fulmer, IBM's worldwide sales vice-president for e-business infrastructure. "There's an element of perhaps driving hardware demand from the solutions side," says Fulmer. "But that's a benefit that we see down the road, if at all. Our main goal is to build the market by bringing more partners into the mix, and getting them what they need to generate software that will meet their customers' needs."

A bigger target is market share in a segment IBM sees as the chief area for potential growth, Fulmer adds. "We think the spending is there," he says. "Some of it will be this year, while others may be looking out another year or two. But this is a longer effort to build the next generation for this platform."

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