IBM Providing Online Resource Center for Developers

In a move to woo independent software vendors (ISVs) to develop open solutions tailored to vertical industries using IBM hardware, IBM today announced resources available from its new Virtual Innovation Center for Hardware.

This online information portal is designed to help IBM business partners more quickly build, port and deploy solutions and is freely available to members of IBM’s PartnerWorld Industry Networks.

The portal provides an onoine pool of IBM resources — including the entire eServer and TotalStorage family of products — 24 hours a day, seven days a week over the Internet.

Adam Tumas, program manager for Virtual Innovation Center for Hardware, told the E-Commerce Times that Big Blue’s motive is to arm business partners with new technical resources to help them serve their customers across all industries.

“We are building on the demand and feedback from our business partners,” Tumas said. “Our ISVs told us there is a wealth of information on, but they don’t always know how to find it. The Virtual Innovation Center for Hardware pulls together the resources they need in one convenient online location.”

Aiding Innovation

Big Blue’s latest offerings provide ISVs with 18 new “how to” guides that offer step-by-step instructions on how to develop, enable and implement their applications on IBM technology.

These guides are tailored to the technical requirements of each hardware platform and take business partners through the application planning, porting, developing and testing stages.

“The biggest challenge with the how-tos was identifying our best resources for the different steps in the process to take the ISV to the end of the game,” Tumas said. “From an industry solutions standpoint of building and supporting applications, we knew we had to pull it all together for them, and we did.”

IBM has also designed a new toolkit to help users identify hardware requirements. The toolkit is comprised of an interactive, Web-based questionnaire that enables end users to determine the optimal system configuration for their applications based on their specific workload.

For example, users fill out specific information, such as the size of their organization and level of application usage. As a result, the tool produces a tailored assessment of the system requirements based upon the presented criteria.

This tool can be hosted by IBM, the business partner or both and supports IBM eServer xSeries, iSeries, pSeries and Linux on POWER.

Virtual Loaners

The IBM Virtual Loaner Program, based on IBM Virtualization Engine, IBM Tivoli, IBM WebSphere and Grid technologies, has expanded to offer application porting, testing and validation support for AIX 5L Version 5.3 and SuSE Linux (SLES9) on POWER5 processor technologies.

IBM business partners can now access a wider pool of IBM hardware resources, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, over the Internet. More than 200 hardware enablement projects have been completed through this initiative since the Virtual Loaner Program’s inception six months ago.

“The Virtual Loaner Program provides us with ‘easy access’ to develop,deploy and support our AIX-based applications, without requiring hefty, upfront investments in hardware, operating system and maintenance costs,” Leigh Purdie, director of InterSect Alliance, said

“The benefit is that we are able to test out different applicationscenarios, accessing multiple system images across a variety of differentplatforms, without leaving our office parameters,” Purdie said.

Educating the Future

Online courses and tutorials on various IBM technologies — such as Linux on POWER, DB2 Universal Database, Lotus Domino, eServer portfolio, Java, WebSphere, WebSphere Portal and more– are now available to help IBM’s business partners with application development and porting so that they have the skills needed to deliver vertical industry solutions to their customers.

Tumas promised ongoing innovation through the virtual offering.

“In the first quarter of next year, we are going to expand the program even more to support for iSeries equipment,” he said. “The long-term direction is to continue down that road until all of the eServer hardware is represented through the virtual loaner program.”

Jim Balderston, senior industry analyst at The Sageza Group, told the E-Commerce Times that IBM is leveraging its wide array of technologies to allow partners to do test drives of their products within IBM environments.

“This gives those partners a chance to fine tune their offerings in a laboratory setting instead of in the customer’s server room,” he said. “Furthermore, it gives IBM the opportunity to make more partners aware of both virtualization and grid computing, technologies that will be playing major roles in IT in the coming years.”

Balderston said IBM also gets the opportunity to gather and assess partner feedback that it can use in designing future offerings.

“The innovation cetner is also a demonstrable investment by IBM in its channel and partner ecosystem, an investment that is a ‘money where their mouth is’ commitment,” he said.

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