IBM to offer virtual training for startups

IBM to offer virtual training for startups

IBM Corp. is to give developers at startup companies access to virtual workshops on Big Blue hardware and software under a new initiative IBM plans to unveil Monday. Although the company is specifically targeting developers in Brazil, China, India and Russia, their peers elsewhere in the world will also be able to access the courses from their desktops, according to IBM executives.

Last year, in emerging markets around the world, more than 400 developers a day signed up to join IBM's developer networks, according to Mark Hanny, IBM vice president for independent software vendors and developer relations in emerging markets. "That's about 17 new developers every hour," he said.

Emerging markets are a key driver for IBM's bottom line, with the company in 2004 growing its business in those regions by over 25 percent, equivalent to more than US$4 billion, Hanny said.

IBM is looking to increase its business in emerging markets by providing more developers with access to the facilities already offered at its 30-plus global innovation centers, according to Hanny. Individuals entering the centers can take workshops in a variety of IBM technologies mediated by experts in those fields. IBM is now creating what it terms virtual innovation centers providing 40 virtual courses facilitated by virtual mentors, often offered in a country's native language.

An individual can access the virtual workshop through a web conference from their PCs, dialing into the lecture via phone or voice over Internet Protocol. IBM configures a customized remote environment for students so they can follow the lecture and the virtual mentor is on hand via phone, e-mail or instant messaging.

Classes to be offered include how to build on the Linux operating system, developing with WebSphere Application Server, advanced portals, grid computing and Express middleware. "They're based on what we've seen that software developers in the [real-world] centers are keen on," Hanny said.

In order to qualify for the virtual workshops, a developer needs to join IBM's PartnerWorld public program and agree that they have an interest in building an application based on IBM software running on Linux, Hanny said. Then, the individual can go ahead and access the virtual workshops free of charge. A workshop can last anywhere between two hours and three days, according to the IBM executive.

In future, IBM may consider using the virtual innovation centers concept as a way to certify developers on its software, Hanny said. "It would be a very natural extension [of the technology] and is exactly where we would take it." Big Blue will also look to target systems integrators as well as software developers as time goes on, he added.

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