IBM is launching 'IBM Express' branded middleware to take on Microsoft .Net head-to-head in the mid-range software market.
The first product, WebSphere Portal Express, is already available and will be followed by IBM DB2 database management system, plus web access and security infrastructure software.
The company said customers were looking for simple-to-implement applications that were secure, reliable and scalable. Its target market is companies with 100 to 1,000 employees.
Pricing for the pre-packaged applications will be much lower than IBM normally charges to large enterprises. For instance, WebSphere may cost as little as £50 per user or £1,300 per system.
Rival Microsoft has acquired companies such as Great Plains and Navision to give it end user applications for .Net in the mid-range, while IBM's plans involve partnering independent software vendors to compete in vertical industries such as manufacturing and healthcare.
IBM has the advantage of being well established in mid-range hardware. Its middleware approach follows a similar move for its eServer pSeries Unix-based mid-range systems, which are now being offered as 'Express' pre-configured servers at low cost.
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