IBM promises greater trained software engineers

IBM has spruced up its e-business portfolio and repositioned its infrastructure software and tools offerings under the WebSphere trademark.

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By  Peter Conmy Published  August 6, 2000

IBM has spruced up its e-business portfolio and repositioned its infrastructure software and tools offerings under the WebSphere trademark.

But rounding off the delivery of products and upgrades, IBM is also embarking on a concerted effort to enhance its support capabilities.

According to a Gartner Group report, support for Big Blue’s extensive e-business software portfolio is “not well rounded in all geographies.”

Furthermore the report stated, that the software giant intended to train 1000 new system engineers on the WebSphere platform and “deploy these people globally.”

“The scope of the WebSphere Software Platform initiative indicates that IBM is determined to have long-term strategic presence and influence in the e-business and e-commerce software infrastructure markets,” stated the report.

Local Experts

Certainly, in the Middle East, the influx of greater technical skills will aid IBM to build its software business.

Up until now the company’s software personnel numbered only four people: nothing compared with the likes of Microsoft or Oracle in the region.

However, Big Blue is making the concerted effort to change this by importing skills outside the region and building skills amongst its partners.

“We’re building the level of experts sitting locally to build standards and support [our] business partners,” Tamsin Miles, software marketing manager, IBM Middle East, told Arabian Computer News.

“We have a fairly young business partner community compared to Oracle, so there is always going to be some element of catch-up there.

"But we do have the people with the skills in terms of packaged offerings and the WebSphere e-commerce suites, we have nine or ten [trained] business partners across the Gulf, [which] have certified people, to make sure that they are capable of supporting the solution,” commented Miles.

To further build local technical software skills, IBM is encouraging more business partners to send people for paid training. Only when the candidate passes the certification exams will IBM reimburse the costs of training to the business partner. “This way we ensure they send the right people to do the training,” said Miles.

Massive Assault

However, IBM still faces an uphill struggle to build a software business independent of the high margin, long serving hardware platforms, such as AS/400, RS/6000 and mainframe technologies.

It will not be enough for IBM’s local operations to sell solutions on the back of their installed hardware base, they must go out and sell, deploy and support solutions on a mixture of other platforms, a goal, which for the most part eluded IBM in the region.

To achieve this goal the company plans a massive assault on the small to medium business segment, said Miles.

Key to that assault on the SMB marketplace will be the range of products announced under the new WebSphere umbrella.

The upgraded and new products included; four versions of IBM’s Commerce Suite, all available previously, three versions of IBM WebSphere Application Server, all upgraded to a new point version, DB2 database, integration technologies, B2B Integrator, a portal server, a business components framework, resulting from the San Francisco project, a voice server, an edge server, personalisation and site analysis tools and enhanced support for mobile and wireless devices.

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