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IBM to bolster services with network push

Aiming to lengthen its services reach, the computing giant teams with NetSolve to help companies manage their computer networks.

Aiming to lengthen its services reach, IBM on Thursday said it has teamed with NetSolve to help companies manage their computer networks.

As part of the deal, IBM Global Services, the computing giant's consulting arm, will offer NetSolve's flagship ProWatch collection of managed network services to joint corporate clients.

Austin, Texas-based NetSolve, which targets midsized businesses, provides remote network-management and security services intended to help companies get rid of the headache and costs involved in maintaining, monitoring and operating their computer networks.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM said its goal in the partnership is to tap deeper into new markets, including the midsized market and the remote network-services arena, to increase services revenue.

The veteran computer and software maker is counting on services for growth, especially in a tough economic environment. Although the company did not experience much growth in 2000, CEO Lou Gerstner recently told investors in the company's annual report that IBM's services division could help the company regain lost steam this year.

IBM met analysts' expectations in its first quarter, which was partly buoyed by strength in its services business. Services sales reached $8.5 billion, compared with $7.6 billion a year earlier and $9.2 billion in the fourth quarter.