REFILE-IBM targets rivals with info tech maintenance product

Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:54am EDT

By Nicola Leske

April 11 (Reuters) - IBM is taking aim at competitors such as Hewlett Packard Co and Oracle Corp with PureSystems, a new product line that helps companies reduce time and money spent on increasingly complex information technology maintenance.

Data from both IBM and research firm IDC shows that companies spend upwards of 70 percent of their IT budgets on simple operations and maintenance, leaving little to invest in innovation. Perhaps more alarmingly, two-thirds of corporate IT projects exceed the allotted budget and are delivered behind schedule.

"PureSystems will help clients to free up time and money to focus on innovation and the urgent to-do's that many businesses cannot address due to ever rising costs and staffing needs in the traditional data center," IBM said in a statement.

For example, the company said that the time and effort needed to build, procure and deploy the infrastructure needed for a typical Web application currently takes six months or more. But PureSystems, which includes a number of different offerings and will be available this quarter, could reduce that time by a third.

"Depending on how large the system and application is, it could take days and weeks to set up, with PureSystems it could take less than a day in some cases," said Rod Adkins, head of IBM's systems and technology group.

PureSystems was developed through acquisitions and $2 billion in research and development over four years.

Jon Rymer, an analyst at research firm Forrester, said that the launch of PureSystems was "hugely important" to IBM because many of the areas in which the company competes have become commoditized.

"Their added value is in creating higher-performing products," Rymer said, noting that IBM was taking the infrastructure convergence trend further than its competitors.

Oracle, HP, Cisco Systems Inc and other top IT vendors have been pushing converged infrastructure, which integrates server, storage, networking and other technologies into a single managed architecture. Ideally, this locks customers in while keeping competitors out.

"IBM is taking that further by layering Websphere and data centers on it," said Rymer, referring to IBM's Websphere, which is a set of tools that allow customers to create and manage business Websites.

As an impetus for adoption, IBM said it would buy back servers, including those made by HP and Oracle, from those clients migrating to PureSystems.

But Rymer said he was not sure if IBM's offer to dispose of customers' existing equipment would take off.

"We'll see if anybody cares," Rymer said.

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