January 18, 2001, 2:27 PM — IBM ON MONDAY announced hardware, software, and service initiatives for wireless commerce.
As part of the announcement, IBM, in Armonk, N.Y., is introducing WebSphere Everyplace Suite Service Provider Edition, which effectively makes Big Blue a mobile service provider. The company will create, host, and manage wireless platforms for small to large corporations. The offering is due to be available by the end of the year.
Included in the services will be an IBM hosted wireless gateway that will support applications designed for multiple wireless networks. The gateway will enable the hosting of many networks and content designed for various proprietary gateways.
The WebSphere Everyplace service will support message queuing, synchronization, and subscriber management features. According to an IBM official, the company will be able to service as many as 5 million simultaneous subscribers.
Although wireless e-commerce has been "incredibly over-hyped" during the past year, if wireless is deployed strategically, it can value, according to Dennis Gaughan, a senior analyst at AMR Research, in Boston.
"A lot of the e-opportunities will be driven by systems integrators. Enterprise-level companies will look to these solution providers for the direction to go in. Once you have determined that direction, a company can pick the best technology," Gaughan said.
IBM also announced eServer p640, a Unix rack mountable server based on AIX, IBM's version of Unix, which will use Big Blue's new PowerPC Power3 microprocessor. The Power3 uses copper technology for faster performance. The servers are shipping now.
For companies not looking for a hosted solution, IBM will also offer its WebSphere Everyplace Suite as a licensed product that is available now.
To gear up for its hosting services later this year, IBM officials said its 175 data centers that it operates worldwide will offer wireless services, and there are plans to open 68 more centers in the United States and Europe through a partnership with A&T, KPN Qwest, and others.
The IBM strategy of hosting appears to play to the current trend among larger companies of outsourcing parts of their business that are not integral to their core technology strength.
"In the past a lot of companies built their own software. Most of them are realizing that it doesn't make sense for them to be a software company. Running a big Internet service 24x7 is unpredictable and companies are better off not doing it themselves," said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, vice president of technology and strategy for IBM Server Group.