IBM will begin charging for its database tools as it steps up work in this area to compete with tools from rivals such as BMC Software and Computer Associates (CA).
As part of a four-year, $200m effort, the company plans to roll out 35 tools that support its DB2 and Information Management Systems (IMS) databases for OS/390-based mainframes.
About 10 of the products will be new developments. Some of the complete range will also support versions of IBM's DB2 for Unix and Windows NT.
Jeff Jones, senior programme manager at IBM's data management group, said Big Blue had until now focused its resources on database engines, and provided some tools free of charge.
"After several versions of strengthening and bullet-proofing these things, and customers pushing for it, we're at a point to put the effort around it," he said.
IBM plans to offer some of the tools at half the price of rival products. But Jones said the company will continue to share its database software code with BMC and CA. "We continue to offer everyone a fair share," he said.
According to researcher IDC, the database tools market is growing at about 13 per cent annually and will be worth more than $2bn by 2003.
Rich Evans, an analyst at the Meta Group, said IBM can play in this market, despite having far fewer products than its main competitors, but it will need to price the utilities at between 20 and 50 per cent less than its rivals.
"Because of the lower prices, customers will go from their suppliers to IBM," he said.
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