IBM battles BackOffice with competing suites

IBM is to launch a trio of NT-based alternatives to Microsoft's BackOffice suite of products. The suites, which haven't been announced yet, will ship in April and are currently called the IBM Suites for NT, says Pat Redmond, IBM's NT enablement manager based in Toronto. Last week IBM briefed 175 of the company's local channel partners on the three suites.

IBM is to launch a trio of NT-based alternatives to Microsoft’s BackOffice suite of products.

The suites, which haven’t been announced yet, will ship in April and are currently called the IBM Suites for NT, says Pat Redmond, IBM’s NT enablement manager based in Toronto.

Last week IBM briefed 175 of the company’s local channel partners on the three suites.

At the entry level there will be small/medium business suite which will include Lotus Domino Web server and DB2 database, plus two or three other products that have yet to confirmed.

The second is aimed at company departments and includes Domino, DB2 Universal Server, the backup and archiving software ADSM (Adstar Distributed Storage Manager), IBM Communications Manager, and a systems management offering yet to be finalised.

Third will be an enterprise suite which, in addition to everything in the second suite, will include IBM’s messaging product MQ Series, and DB2 Connect for connecting the NT system to a host system.

IBM did a similar thing last year when it bundled seven of its software products under the name IBM Software Servers (code name Project Eagle) in 1996.

The trouble was that they weren’t really marketed as a suite, says Redmond. “Because it was the first time IBM had done that, there wasn’t the same awareness as to what makes a group of product work together. Basically we ended up selling those products standalone. A lot more thought has gone into this version and there is more commitment on the part of the different labs.

“What these new suites say is that IBM is serious about NT. If you choose that operating system to do business on, we can bring a wealth of advantages.”

An example is the suites’ consistency with software running on other platforms, says Redmond. “A big reason we’re doing this is in response to customer demand. A lot of people are installing NT servers but want the same middleware code on NT as they have on other systems like their AS/400 or 390s.

“We’ve also worked very hard to make it easier to install. I installed an early version last week. I only had to answer a couple of questions — which components do you want to install, and do you want the install to be automatic or do you want to install each component individually. Five servers were installed in less than an hour.”

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