IBM Readies Partners for the "Final Stretch"

IBM announced a new portfolio of products and services designed to help business partners prepare customers for the final days leading up to Year 2000.

Dubbed the "Final Stretch" campaign, IBM intends to provide marketing and bundled product support to any business partner who needs it, particularly those servicing small companies.

"While most larger customers are likely already testing their systems, many smaller enterprises are just now beginning the process of becoming Year 2000 ready," says David Cassano, general manager for IBM's Year 2000 Global Initiatives.

Part of the initiative is a series of "Millennium Offerings" targeted at AS/400 and RS/6000 sites. IBM Business partners can select and bundle a range of hardware, software, service and financing support to assist in Year 2000 upgrade efforts. Another program, called "Team Players," is a cooperative direct-mail program wherein IBM will conduct mass-mailings to AS/400, RS/6000 sites as well as other customers, and business partners can include their own product-specific messages.

IBM is also pushing its Network Stations as a replacement alternative to upgrading networks of PCs. IBM Global Services SmoothStart services help install server software and deploy the thin clients. IBM also announced programs to bring PCs and Netfinity Windows NT environments into compliance. IBM Global Services employs a networked PC compliance tool, ClickNet Y2K from ClickNet Software (San Jose, Calif.) to automate PC inventory, asset management and Year 2000 readiness reporting.

When it comes to Year 2000, IBM is also showing the money. As part of its Year 2000 package, IBM Global Financing is offering rates as low as zero percent for financing migration to Year 2000-ready systems during the first half of 1999. After 2000, rates revert back to rates of about 6.5 percent, according to IBM. IBM also announced short-term, low-cost equipment rentals for Year 2000 testing.

--J. McKendrick