IBM and Cisco jointly focus on wireless in local market

JOHANNESBURG (12/03/2003) - IBM SA has been re-certified as a Cisco Systems Inc. gold partner with advanced specializations in IP (Internet Protocol) communications, security and wireless technology -- just as IBM SA begins a strategic focus on the local wireless market.

"We have identified wireless as an enormous growth area in SA," says David Bowdler, IBM's European Cisco alliance director, who was in the country for the Cisco Networkers 2003 event.

"The issues of access to and the cost of bandwidth in SA make optimization of networks a priority -- and wireless technology is a cost-effective way of achieving that.

"In addition, wireless technology is one of the quickest ways for organizations to move to the on demand business model.

"And, when it comes to on demand, there is a natural strategic fit between Cisco and IBM. IBM understands both the business and technology implications for customers of moving to on demand operations, and has the business vision and expertise to help customers through and beyond the transition. Cisco has the infrastructure technology that enables on demand business. Also, both companies believe in open standards.

"It has made sense, therefore, for us to jointly develop the solutions that IBM offers as part of its on demand services. Many of the services revolve around wireless technology. So Cisco and IBM SA will be working together in a very focused way in the local market."

IBM SA's re-certification specialization in IP communications is also based on needs in the local market. According to Bowdler, there is an inexorable trend towards converging different types of connectivity on a single network.

"It is not just driven by the obvious cost-saving benefits of consolidation. There are speed-to-market advantages from being able to quickly deploy applications that link voice, data and video. But you cannot have those advantages without the reliable, secure network that IBM provides using Cisco infrastructure," he adds.

IBM and Cisco are also jointly developing specific industry solutions, of which one of the first is a branch transformation solution for the financial services sector. It is designed to help banks to reduce costs, deploy new applications more rapidly and improve customer service. It is delivered through IBM Business Consulting Services but, as it requires a converged network to deliver all the benefits, it is built on Cisco technology components.

IBM also offers the public sector a range of e-learning solutions based on what are known as Cisco wireless classrooms. Computers equipped with Cisco wireless technology are built into mobile carts that can be wheeled to wherever the students are, eliminating the need for dedicated computer laboratories.

"The Cisco wireless classroom embeds computing into the learning process, rather than making it a special subject separate from all the others," Bowdler adds. IBM is also doing work with Cisco on digital surveillance and various cross-industry initiatives.

"Our relationship with Cisco is unique," said Bowdler. "IBM is the only technology company with the will and capacity to deliver end-to-end solutions in the on demand world. Much of that capacity is underpinned by Cisco facilities, which are acknowledged to be the world's best.

"Together, therefore, we offer customers thought leadership, economies of scale, product choices and levels of service and quality that they can get nowhere else."

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