IBM targets Global Services customers with System z

New mainframe product automates accounts payable, invoice fulfillment for Global Services engagements

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IBM broadened its System z mainframe offerings today with the addition of a new model specifically designed to manage accounts payable and electronic bill fulfillment functions for customers of IBM Global Services.

The new offering combines a System z10 mainframe with enterprise software packages from IBM, including Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager for Global Services and WebSphere Electronic Fulfillment for Global Services.

"The IBM System z platform is a proven, time-tested solution for applications that require robust, high-volume financial transaction processing, such as an IBM Global Services engagement," Jim Stallings, general manager for IBM's System z division, said in a statement.

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Despite a global economic downturn, services brought roughly $15 billion in revenue to IBM in 2007. According to IBM CEO Samuel J. Palmisano, Big Blue plans to improve on that figure in the coming year.

"In the past, customers have been hampered by inefficient accounts-payable technology that limited their ability to fulfill IBM invoices in a timely manner," Palmisano said in a conference call. "The System z for Global Services solution is ideally situated to create efficiencies that will allow for more enriching engagements between IBM customers and our Global Services division."

IBM debuted its System z mainframe line in 2000 but has since struggled to market the products to new customers, who often balk at the platform's high cost. That's why the new offering makes so much sense, said IDC analyst Gail Marsden, who believes that Global Services customers are an ideal market for IBM mainframes.

"Customers tend to focus too much on how incredibly expensive mainframes are. But once they get a full grasp of how much they're spending on Global Services, many realize that they might as well just buy the mainframe, too," Marsden said. "They think of it as a mercy killing."