IBM packages iSeries and Workplace as office appliance

IBM is rallying behind a new bundled solution that will see its iServer server range being paired up with its Workplace software in the hopes of reviving the weak mainframe market.

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By  Caroline Denslow Published  April 28, 2005

IBM is rallying behind a new bundled solution that will see its iServer server range being paired up with its Workplace software in the hopes of reviving the weak mainframe market. Big Blue has been pitching iSeries’ different versions to different market segments but it said that selling the iSeries hardware — previously known as the AS/400 —on its own to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is not sensible because most of these organisations do not usually have large IT teams. Instead, the company will offer the pre-bundled Workplace software — IBM Workplace Collaboration Services 2.5 and IBM Workplace Services Express 2.5 — as an ‘office appliance’ that will require minimum installation requirements and support. Jelan Heidelberg, IBM’s eServer worldwide business development manager, said the solution would most likely appeal to the SMB sector because of its simplicity. “We really and truly believe that the fundamental benefit of the iSeries platform is simplicity, a level of simplicity you just can’t get in other environments,” said Heidelberg. “And now that simplicity is going to help our customers and partners spend less time wiring and managing systems, and more time realising the bottom-line business benefits IBM Workplace software has to offer.” According to Heidelberg, this simplicity comes from the fact that most of Workplace’s underlying resources are already included with the iSeries server and the i5/OS operating system. “With an iSeries server, the customer gets DB2, LDAP, the Apache web server, and WebSphere Application Server built into the box, all integrated with each other and ready to use,” she said. To ease the installation process, Workplace Collaboration 2.5 includes a set-up wizard that only requires the user to answer 15 questions, which will then determine the integration process and the backend resources needed. “The wizard can effectively reduce a week or two of integration work to an hour or two of installation,” Heidelberg explained. And if users want to scale iSeries, say, from a single-process server to a mainframe-class server with 64 processors, all they have to do is call IBM’s support team, Heidelberg said. “Many of the latest iSeries machines include something we call ‘capacity on demand’, or spare processors just waiting to be used. All the customer has to do is call IBM, get an activation code, and turn on the processors to get more capacity immediately,” she elaborated. In terms of security, users do not have any reason to worry, said Heidelberg, because the iSeries was designed to be virus-resistant. “Viruses are typically spread by executable files masquerading as document files. But this isn’t possible on the iSeries; the architecture and OS won’t allow it. So while individual desktops may become infected, the infection doesn’t penetrate i5/OS. And administrators don’t have to waste cycles installing security patch after security patch for i5/OS,” she claimed. Heidelberg also believes that the Workplace bundle will give IBM’s channel partners the chance to impress customers and highlight the business value of the solutions they deliver. “Because both IBM Workplace Services Express and IBM Workplace Collaboration Services on iSeries are clean, elegant, single-box solutions, a partner can get it up and running so much faster, and look that much more ‘put together’ in front of a customer,” Heidelberg commented. “Plus the implementation eliminates most of the wiring and backend integration that doesn’t really add value for the customer, and it puts the focus quickly and squarely on the partner’s Workplace solution and how it helps solve the customer’s business problems.” IBM’s iSeries team will lend support to Workplace’s channel, providing training on iSeries-specific issues and assisting them in modifying their solutions for optimum performance, said Heidelberg.

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