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IBM's SMB Services Light on Linux

IBM has rolled out a new on-demand initiative geared at providing desktop level support to small and medium sized businesses and geared for a Windows environment.

The pitch is thus: IBM puts a server with desktop management tools at your location and then remotely manages virus detection and protection, operating system and application updates and patches, plus nightly backups of employees' hard disk images. Prices on a per-user basis start at $40.

There's just one catch. The customers have to be running an "XP" compliant desktop in a Windows environment; so far, the new service doesn't support Linux desktops.

When queried about it by internetnews.com, Dale Moegling, director of IBM's desktop services said, "From an operating system they need to be Windows 2000 or XP. The machines themselves need to be XP certified. We did that because most of the applications that people need and are running today need to have machines that are XP compliant." Overall, he added, the intent is that the offering is targeted for a Windows environment now.

The new Express services aimed at SMB's with mundane but critical tasks of desktop systems maintenance and include data backup and recovery, virus and spam filtering, plus features such as network monitoring and virtual help-desk services.

According to Moegling, "In the September to October time frame, 60-65 percent of all problems that occurred could have been prevented because patches had already been released that would have stopped that virus activity."

IBM's desktop management services will solve that problem by automatically and transparently updating applications and the operating system with patches as soon as they are released.

The new service is not intended to replace in-house IT staff, IBM added. Instead, it's designed to help IT staff do their jobs.

"We're going to free them up to work on the business issues and the IT issues like making and creating a more robust network," he added.

The Express initiative is a subset of the IBM's Workplace strategy that was announced last November

"We're taking that broad announcement that was made in November and we're getting very specific with solutions."

Dan Muse contributed to this story