IBM, Azure opens solutions test center in S'pore

Costing an initial investment of US$1.5 million, the facility gives customers the opportunity to do proof-of-concepts and benchmarking.

SINGAPORE--IBM and Azure Technologies have teamed up to launch the Business Partner Innovation Center (BPIC), providing business partners and clients a platform to test hardware and software products and services.

Costing an initial investment of US$1.5 million, the S'pore-based facility is IBM's first BPIC in Asean and South Asia, following the launch of this scheme in 2004. BPICs are physical centers equipped with IBM hardware and software that are owned and operated by IBM's premier business partners. In the Asia-Pacific region, there are currently five BPICs in operation--one each in China, Korea and Hong Kong, and two in Japan.

Said William Chu, Asean regional general manager of Azure Technologies, at the opening of the center this morning: "In the midst of unpredictable market conditions, disasters and disruptions, our clients' needs are becoming increasingly complex." Azure is a regional distributor of IBM's servers and storage products.

"As clients turn to us to help solve their business problems, we look to IBM for products and services to get results," Chu said.

The new facility is hosted at the data center of Telstra-KAZ, the IT services arm of Telstra Global Business, which occupies 4,000 square feet. However, IBM declined to say how much floor space the BPIC here will occupy.

Services available at the center include product demonstrations, benchmarking, proof-of-concept support and training. In addition, Chu said the facility currently offers demonstration and testing of five "focused solutions", including Oracle RAC Data Guard and SAP applications. IBM was unable to provide pricing details of these services.

According to Han Chung Heng, general manager, IBM systems and technology group, the center is catered to provide solutions and services for all enterprises, regardless of size or industry.

"The BPIC is really for all enterprises that wish to optimize their operations and infrastructure, even small and midsize businesses," said Han.

Baxter Healthcare currently uses IBM's iSeries servers. Carol Phua, the company's regional director of information services, declined to say if Baxter would engage the services offered by the center, but expressed a need for such facilities to help the company meet its challenges.

"Some of the challenges we face include regulatory and compliance issues, pricing and the diverse languages in Asia," Phua said. "We want a vendor that can provide us tangible representations of the solutions, to meet our challenges and give us a competitive edge over our rivals."

According to Azure's Chu, IBM and Azure Technologies will be opening another BPIC in Malaysia next week. While plans are afoot for more such centers in the region, the companies are keeping mum on the details.

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