IBM on Wednesday put another piece of its integration strategy in place for SMBs (small and midsize businesses), unveiling a new WebSphere-based server that helps users better integrate both business processes and people.
The new WebSphere Business Integration Server Express is designed to make it easier for SMBs to piece together their IT systems, business processes, and applications. In concert with this announcement IBM also introduced two vertical Express-based solutions for SMBs for the electronics and life science industries, which help users in those fields better collaborate with their customers as well as manage supplier procurement and general ledger functions.
At Wednesday's press conference, IBM officials said they believe business process integration remains one of the toughest items to knock off SMBs' wish lists. Through its own research, they said a little over 75 percent of midsize companies operate in decidedly heterogeneous hardware and software environments.
And this at a time when industry standards, supplier IT mandates, and an increasing number of government regulations are demanding higher levels of inside-out integration, they noted.
"Because we are aiming it at SMBs, it has to be easy to use. Everything is on one CD, a single install. We did a heart transplant into this product from our core business process technology, but put new arms, legs, and a face on it and built it specifically for SMB," said Scott Cosby, program director for WebSphere Business Integration Group.
Because the offering is intended for both SMBs and the business providers that help them piece solutions together, it comes packaged with customizable adapters and prepackaged processes that can serve to tie users existing IT environments. Included are adapters for existing CRM and ERP packages, Web-enabled product catalogs, and e-commerce sites.
"It is built both for SMBs and for partners too, so [partners] can deliver value into a given market. Partners have to be a critical part of our strategy if we are to gain entry into a number of SMB markets," Cosby said.
One business partner thinks IBM hasn't left out too many important ingredients.
"The product [WebSphere Business Integration Server Express] looks like it provides almost immediate back-end integration, right out of the box," said Brian Hall, practice leader for business integration and workflow at Gemini Systems, a regional systems integrator. "And the adapters provided give us some flexibility to create our own, which gives us a better chance at giving the customer what they need," he said.
The new offering puts in place perhaps the last piece for IBM's Express-based integration strategy. The new version works in concert with Big Blue's existing products including the WebSphere Business Integration Express for Item Synchronization, WebSphere Business Integration Connect Express, and WebSphere MQ Express.
Presently WebSphere Business Integration Server Express works with three operating environments including Windows, Linux, and IBM's iSeries of mid-range systems, a company spokesman said.
Carrying a price tag of $6,000 per processor, the product is scheduled to be widely available on May 14.
Users and developers who want more information about the product can go to http://www.ibm.com/businesscenter/us/express.