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IBM ploughs deeper into small-business market

Scaled-down versions of Rational Build Forge and Tivoli Network Manager head a raft of product announcements by IBM.

IBM announced on Friday a range of scaled-down software products for small businesses, including specially adapted versions of Rational Build Forge for software delivery and automation, and the Tivoli Network Manager.

The company says the products are intended for small enterprises, which, unlike large businesses, typically wouldn't manage in-house the areas addressed by these products.

Most of IBM's software products have in the past been designed for organizations of more than 1,000 employees.

IBM cites statistics from consultancy firm AMI Partners, which predicts that IT spending by small and midsize enterprises, or SMEs, will grow by 10 percent during 2007. However, much of that growth will occur in less-developed nations such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, AMI said.

One of the new product offerings, Rational Build Forge, is designed to manage the delivery process for new software by standardizing and automating that process. In modifying the software for smaller businesses, IBM has added an easy-install wizard and remote deployment options, and called the product Rational Build Forge Express Edition.

The software has been built from the assets of Build Forge, which IBM bought in 2006. Build Forge Express Edition will cost $49,000 per server and is to be made available on October 23.

Another of the new products announced by the software vendor is Tivoli Network Manager IP Entry Edition, a network-management product. The software is intended to help IT managers understand the topology of their network and the data running over it.

IBM's new SME products also include the following:

• Watchfire AppScan and WebXM, which identify vulnerabilities to help prevent data breaches.

• Rational Team Concert (Beta 1), a collaborative portal for software delivery teams and the first offering developed on the Jazz Technology platform.

• Rational Performance Tester 7.01 and Rational Functional Tester 7.01, which help companies to test the scalability, reliability and quality of applications before they are released into production.

• Tivoli Consul Insight Manager, which offers an auditing capability to allow companies to test their IT systems' compliance from one dashboard console.

IBM's slew of SME announcements follows a related release last week. The company said that it will optimize its BladeCenter system for smaller offices. That includes allowing the BladeCenter to run outside the communications cabinet and building in a noise attenuator to muffle noise produced by the device.

Richard Thurston of ZDNet UK reported from London.