IBM will unveil three Windows NT-based software suites next week that it intends to pitch head on against Microsoft?s Back Office family of products.
The suites, which have yet to be named, will be launched at Big Blue?s Business Partner Exectuve Conference in San Francisco on 17 February, and will include a single install for easy deployment and a single point of contact for support and service.
Tony Occleshaw, IBM?s European software manager, said: ?We?re attempting to play Microsoft at its own game by getting into the suites market. Like Microsoft has recognised with Back Office, IBM sees there are three different market sectors, and we?re going to compete against it. This is also about packaging and making the products easier to install and use, which cuts costs for the user.?
He added that Big Blue expected to win the edge over its rival by introducing a single phone number for users and channel partners to contact if they had problems with their system, which included hardware, software and applications.
?Microsoft is not known for its support of enterprise users. Everyone buys Back Office through resellers and business partners and the support infrastructure doesn?t work well because if something goes wrong with the system, neither the hardware supplier or Microsoft or other application suppliers want to take responsibility,? he said.
But, Phil Cross, Microsoft?s group marketing manager, said the software giant relied on its channel to provide support because it was not a services company, and that IBM was in danger of competing with its channel by taking business away from them.
?We are not a solutions support and service company, but we stand behind our products and we do offer direct support for those companies that are prepared to pay a premium. Support is a problem for customers that don?t know where the problem is, so they use the channel, who can look after the entire system not just one or two elements like IBM,? he said.
Big Blue?s launch of the three suites is the next stage on from Project Eagle, or the IBM Software Servers as they are now known, which were unveiled about two years ago.
Big Blue packaged up its different servers, including the DB2 database and Lotus Notes, bundled on the same CD and targetted them at different market sectors such as transaction processing or the Internet.
The first of the new suites, codenamed Barpholdi, is aimed at so-called Connected Enterprise users and is intended to focus on integrating NT applications with mainframe packages in the corporation.
It will be sold direct by Big Blue and includes such software as the MQSeries messaging software, TXSeries transaction processing software, Encina, Lotus? Domino, Tivoli systems management tools and Universal Database for workgroups, and DB2 Connect, which connects a workgroup DB2 database to its mainframe equivalent.
The second suite, codenamed Rodin, is aimed at the traditional AS/400 space and at autonomous departments that traditionally buy applications to solve business problems. The offering is a cut-down version of Barpholdi and does not include DB2 Connect, MQ or TXSeries.
The last offering, codenamed Emerald, will, like Rodin, be sold via the channel. It is aimed at small businesses wanting systems that are easy to install and operate and includes the Lotus Domino Intranet Starter Pack and IBM?s Universal Database for workgroups.
The suites will ship under NT from 30 April, with an upgrade due by the end of the year, providing improved integration. AIX, HP/UX and Solaris versions are scheduled by the end of the year and pricing will be released by mid-February.
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