Helping the Little Guy

SAN MATEO (06/05/2000) - IBM Corp. today announced a deal with as part of its ongoing efforts to help smaller companies move a number of their business processes on-line.

At the heart of the deal is IBM's Small Business WebConnections, which is a monthly subscription that offers a shared Internet access for up to 100 users.

WebConnections costs $99 a month and includes a local server, which is the toaster-size Interjet that IBM gained in its acquisition of Whistle Communications last year. The fee also includes around-the-clock technical support and an Internet connection through analog, ISDN, or DSL lines.

The deal represents the first step IBM will take as part of a series of steps to build relationships between itself and a variety of online business service providers, such as, that will result in customized Internet solutions.

"We see this as an important first step toward filling a huge vacuum that exists for small businesses, by bridging together key players who can collectively break down the technology barriers faced by small companies," said Mike Braun, general manager of IBM's Global Small Business group in White Plains, New York.

To take advantage of the services of both IBM and, small companies can go to to register, officials said.

Officials from both companies claim the site is easy enough to access and use that users do not need any inside or outside IT support.

Like IBM,'s services are priced on a monthly basis, eliminating the need for smaller companies -- often strapped for cash -- to make large, up-front investments.

Initially, the relationship involves the joint marketing and promotion of each other's services designed for small businesses, along with the jointly owned Web site.

Also as part of the deal, has agreed to push IBM's Small Business WebConnections platform to new users.

IBM Corp., in Armonk, New York, is at, in San Francisco, is at

Ed Scannell is an InfoWorld editor at large.

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