IBM, AT&T and the collaborative Lotus Workplace bundle

Key among PartnerWorld announcements was word that IBM and AT&T will jointly offer a packaged team collaboration product for SMBs. Also due are horizontal offerings for iSeries, and vertical offerings for health and retail sectors.

Last week at its PartnerWorld get-together in Las Vegas, IBM expanded its efforts to reach out to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Small- and Medium-Size Businesses (SMBs). Once again, the Lotus group's Workplace program was front-and-center.

Key among PartnerWorld announcements was word that IBM and AT&T will jointly offer a packaged team collaboration product for SMBs. The package, known as IBM WorkplaceServices Express with AT&T Managed Internet Service, will be based on IBM's Workplace Services Express, a collaboration solution with an integrated portal, and AT&T Managed Internet Service. The IBM-AT&T bundle supports Windows or Linux-based servers as well as Windows or Linux browser-based clients.

[In recent years, AT&T has divested many of its holdings to focus on such communications network offerings. In January, AT&T agreed to be acquired by SBC Communications Inc. The stock deal, valued at about $16 billion, is expected to close by the first half of 2006.]

"This broadens our reach in terms of SMBs," said Ken Bisconti, IBM vice president for Workplace, Portal and Collaboration products. For smaller companies, said Bisconti, such IBM's Workplace Services Express offerings are likely to be "the first taste of Workplace."

Also at the Las Vegas event, IBM said it plans to introduce a new Workplace Services bundle on the IBM eServer iSeries hardware platform. Sold through IBM's business partner network, this product is also targeted at SMBs.

For his part, IBM's Bisconti describes Workplace Services Express as an "SMB-oriented portal with out-of-the-box team collaboration, documents management, and portal application support." He also noted that IBM just created new Workplace vertical deployment options for healthcare clinicians and retail store operations.

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