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IBM takes aim at BackOffice

Big Blue will launch new Windows NT-based server software bundles this month, which are intended to compete with Microsoft's BackOffice.

IBM (IBM) later this month will launch new Windows NT-based server software bundles intended to compete with Microsoft's BackOffice.

The new software suites will debut on February 17 at its Business Partner Executive Conference in San Francisco, said Jon Prial, director of Windows NT marketing at IBM.

The company demonstrated the integrated suites at last week's Lotusphere user meeting in Orlando, Florida. As previously reported, the suites will include IBM's DB2 database software, TXSeries transaction server software, MQSeries messaging software, Tivoli management tools, and the company's Domino Web-based groupware.

IBM also will highlight its application development tools for building applications on NT that tie into its other products. Prial said the company will focus primarily on Notes-based development and Java tools.

Company executives say the NT push reflects the operating system's growing importance to corporate users. The intense interest from IBM is something of a switch in strategy, given the company's traditional preference for applications designed to run on its own PC, Unix, and mainframe operating systems.

The suites will be offered in three versions, aimed at various types of customers, from small businesses through multinational companies.

IBM chose a business partner convention for the suite's debut since the company will not sell the suites directly, but instead will rely on systems integrators and resellers to offer the suites as part of a package of software and services.

The strategy is intended to counter Microsoft's BackOffice, quickly becoming Microsoft's most profitable product line.

The suites have not been officially named, and pricing has not been set. But three configurations will be offered: one each for small businesses, departmental systems, and large enterprises.

The small-business version will include the Domino server, along with IBM's DB2 database server. The medium and enterprise packages will add communication and backup-recovery software. The enterprise version also will include transaction processing and messaging middleware, such as IBM's MQSeries, said Prial.

IBM plans to ship the suites this spring.

Windows NT versions will be offered first, but IBM plans to make Unix and OS/2 versions of the suites available later in the year.