Called Managed Data Network Services, the family of offerings support TCP/IP for Internet and intranet communications, Standard Network Architecture (SNA) for legacy systems, and networks supporting other protocols. Each service can be implemented over a frame-relay infrastructure.
"We are putting more emphasis on management than on network topology," Roger Dudley, general manager of marketing and services arrangements for IBM Global Network, told CNET.
Managed Data Network Services includes consulting, network design, management, installation, maintenance, and other services to support end-to-end networking solutions.
Dudley said the service will appeal to customers who want to cut network costs because it will be cheaper than using leased lines and handling administration in-house. It will be targeted at large multinational corporations with global operations, but available to smaller firms as well.
Other vendors are likely to create similar offerings, Dudley acknowledged, adding, "No one else comes in and does the full range of capabilities. They're [doing this in] piecemeal."
Dudley said IBM's now offers options that fall between leased lines and outsourcing, another IBM service. "Customers want something in between," Dudley said. "We will host, on a dedicated or shared basis, applications you want to provide for the Web, local area networks, or your customers."
The announcement covered a menu of services from which customers can choose, available around the world in nearly 850 cities. Services that can be added include email, electronic data interchange (EDI), file transfer, firewall services, remote dial access, and industry-specific solutions.
Managed Data Network services are part of IBM's overall network offerings, a $20-billion business worldwide with additional offerings of outsourcing, managed messaging, collaborative, and managed Internet/intranet services.