IBM program offers support for SOA implementation

Initiative will target systems integrators

Big Blue hopes to give its SOA fortunes a boost by announcing a program Tuesday that will help corporate users launch their first projects more easily.

The initiative is primarily focused on better enabling business partners, application developers, and systems integrators to access IBM's technical resources and the go-to-market support that will help users bring SOA-based projects to fruition.

Some of the new technical resources now available include the IBM SOA Partner Workshops and Architect Hotline, as well as a free interactive three-day session for developers and systems integrators that helps them develop the skills needed to implement an SOA. These resources work in tandem with IBM's server-based software, most notably Websphere, Rational, and Tivoli.

"We are looking to provide an ecosystem that allows partners and users to start their SOA engagement the way they want to, whether it is with a new application, or whether they start by addressing legacy systems. We think this gives them a choice of entry points," said Sandy Carter, an IBM vice president in charge of strategy, channels, and marketing for Websphere.

As part of the program, corporate users can obtain free trial versions of the Websphere Business Integration Modeler, while partners buying the IBM PartnerWorld ValuePack are eligible for free development licenses. The Integration Modeler is a tool that helps users simulate and optimize business processes before they bring them into a production environment.

Business partners can also synch their marketing efforts with IBM's SOA-related marketing campaigns, including advertising packages, demand-generation resources, proposal development, new business opportunity development, as well as joint partner-IBM customer road shows, company officials said.

Some industry observers say that IBM's deeper commitment to resellers and business partners and the reliance on them to build ecosystems represents the most practical approach for success in this market.

"A lot of vendors now say to customers, 'Do SOA with us and we'll take care of all your needs.' But the reality is that in order to do SOA the right way, it has to be via a partner ecosystem. So I think the approach IBM is taking around partners is the right one. People are not going to do a single-vendor approach," said Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz & Associates.

Most corporate IT shops engaging in SOA-related projects often look at more flexible ways to leverage wildly heterogeneous environments within their companies, as well as link to organizations critical to their respective core businesses.

"They mainly want to leverage the resources within their IT organizations as well link to partners, suppliers, and customers without having to do all the hand coding that they used to," Hurwitz said.

IBM will be targeting those resellers and systems integrators that deal with both corporate and midsize companies. Big Blue has already signed up 51 customers, company officials said, including Adobe Systems, Cap Gemini, Bowstreet, Lawson, Cognizant, Salesforce.com, and Siebel and Cognos.

For more information on IBM’s SOA strategy, users can go to www.ibm.com.

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