IBM aims to breathe new life into some product lines and regain its old mantle as technology leader for the new generation of network-centric computing by incorporating Internet-related standards throughout its software offerings.
To co-ordinate its efforts it has developed the Network Computing Framework, explained at a briefing by IBM and Lotus last week.
Steve Mills, general manager of Big Blue's software solutions division, says the Network Computing Framework is "a basic road map to help organisations get from where they are today to being able to offer Internet, intranet and extranet solutions to their customers". To achieve this the focus has to be on server solutions and software development tools.
"There are three parts to this story. First is the entry level that we are offering with the announcement of the Lotus Go mail server. This will provide a basic entry-point Web - a billboard on the Internet, as it were. Then there is the Lotus Domino server. The next stage is to open up these applications to the back-end database and transaction-based systems. So the middleware and tools that we are offering enable corporations to open up software like IMS and CICS transaction processing systems."
IBM New Zealand software division spokesman Greg Wagstaff says most businesses need to be educated about available development tools for setting up a viable Web-based business and about how transactions on the Net can be as secure as transactions done over the phone.
"When you give your credit card number over the phone without signing for it, who is liable for that transaction? The vendor is. And you can repudiate that transaction and not pay for it if you don't remember using your credit card for that. It's the same with giving your number over the Internet--the vendor is liable."
Wagstaff and Katrina Troughton, also from IBM New Zealand's software division, emphasise the role Java has to play in IBM's Internet strategy, saying the goal is to write applications once to run anywhere.
Troughton says it is also to protect the investment of businesses running OS/2, IBM's desktop operating system.