IBM plans to invest $1bn this year to bolster its ability to provide internet infrastructure technologies to businesses, with a particular emphasis on its WebSphere web development platform.
Big Blue invested $1bn in a similar programme last year and said it plans to increase that amount by double digits in 2001.
The latest investment will be spent hiring more than 1000 engineers and sales people to work on IBM's WebSphere web development environment, and designing programmes to attract five million developers to build and deploy ebusiness solutions on the development platform.
WebSphere was originally unveiled two years ago, and features tools to help businesses personalise and analyse web content, handle complex transactions, and extend back-end business data and applications to the internet. It also provides data-security measures, and includes new tools that enable developers to build and customise web portals.
"The WebSphere software platform is the first true ebusiness platform," said John Swainson, general manager of IBM's application and integration middleware unit.
"It is an integrated set of technologies that addresses every phase of ebusiness. Customers don't have to search out the pieces or worry about how they'll all fit. No other company - not Oracle, Sun, BEA or Microsoft - has delivered on this promise," he claimed.
IBM also announced a set of development software tools which it says will make it simpler for developers to produce web applications based on the WebSphereframework.
The software includes the WebSphere Edge server which enables developers to include support for RealNetworks' streaming media technology, and web caching software.
Another component of the software is VisualAge for Java version 3.5, the company's latest release of its development tool for Java. This includes a so-called servlet wizard, which creates server-based Java programs, Java Server Pages and HTML prototypes that allow developers to immediately test software they have written for bugs.
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