Small Business News Briefs

IBM, BellSouth To Co-Market Small Business Data Services
IBM is to take over some networking operations for BellSouth customers, in an outsourcing agreement that includes joint development of on-demand network services for the telecommunications company.

The two companies plan to jointly market on-demand, or utility computing, services to small and medium-sized business customers of BellSouth located in the southeastern United States. The focus of joint development would include network, or “virtualized” storage, voice applications, broadband services, homeland security and wireless.

In addition to their joint marketing efforts, the companies will explore the possibility of jointly developing services in the areas of storage, voice applications, broadband services and wireless technologies for small business use.

The agreement also calls for IBM to deliver managed hosting services for BellSouth from two of its facilities that include dedicated Internet access, metro Ethernet services, network VPN and DSL services, the companies said. IBM is expected to take over BellSouth’s e-business services in BellSouth’s data centers in Atlanta and Miami, which opened in late 2000. BellSouth customers are to be transferred to IBM, which also plans to provide access to enhanced hosting and application services.

The hosting centers that IBM is taking responsibility for managing are expected to act as hubs from which the joint on-demand services in the southeastern United States will be delivered. BellSouth will take care of voice and data network services while IBM focuses on hosting and application services.

Jim Corgel, general manager IBM e-business hosting services, called the arrangement an example of a new computer services model that provides customers more flexibility to scale up their applications and infrastructure remotely.

“The new relationship draws on the strengths of both companies in the areas of network and hosting services to help customers grow their businesses in the new on demand era.”

Donna Lee, chief marketing officer for BellSouth, said the agreement with IBM is a way to extend BellSouth’s core data services data portfolio by taking advantage of IBM’s hosting and application services.

But the key to attracting new clients will be a careful design of the service packages they will offer, especially to small and medium-sized businesses that demand simple and well-defined products capable of producing a quick return on investments.

BellSouth has a strong position in developing telecommunications services for small and medium-size companies in the southeast. The ability to provide bundled network and hosting services allows small businesses to leverage its communications services along with IBM’s cutting edge IT capabilities.

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VeriSign, Form Pact To Pickup SMBs
E-commerce security firm VeriSign said this week it will offer its e-commerce security technology through, a domain registration and hosting company serving the United Kingdom and Europe.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The alliance is a good example of VeriSign’s dual goals: to expand its presence in the small and medium sized businesses; and to push into international markets.

VeriSign’s Shared Hosting Security Service (SHSS) provides a secure pipeline for e-commerce transactions and vets applicants to ensure their legitimacy. Those passing muster earn a digital certificate, a type of “Good Houskeeping” seal, used by 25,000 online shopping sites.

“SHSS is now being used by some of the biggest ISPs in the world — and in turn, is now accessible to over 1 million of these small and medium-sized merchants,” said Patrick Burns, a spokesman for the Mountain View, Calif., company.

While consumers have come to trust large Internet retailers to protect personal information, deliver goods in a timely manner and be reachable if problems arise, unfamiliarity with smaller players could result in abandoned shopping carts. According to VeriSign, 60 percent of consumers are still fearful of credit card fraud online, so its seal of approval goes a long way to shore up wary shoppers.

Verisign believes the small business market is largely untapped. Foley estimates there are between 2 million and 4 million businesses that use Web hosting services and could benefit from VeriSign’s offering.

Technology vendors in nearly every sector have begun to tailor their offerings to small and medium-sized businesses as a way to offset lagging demand from enterprise customers and to establish long lasting relationships with growing companies.
Check Point Software Stakes Claim in Small Business Internet Security Space; Company Duplicates Market-Leading Enterprise Success in Sub-$490 Appliance Segment
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Filing Taxes Can Be Little Less Taxing for Small Businesses
According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), more and more small business are turning to e-file for fast and easy tax filing this year.

With the April 15th tax deadline just a little more than a month away, the topic is at the forefront of business-minded people across the country. Millions of Americans have small business as well as individual taxes to think about it. In fact, IRS statistics show that there are about seven million small businesses nationwide. So the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the (IRS) are spreading the word about electronic filing options.

Through e-file, there is less paperwork to handle and more time to get back to business. Within 48 hours of filing online, taxpayers receive a proof of receipt showing the return has been accepted or if there’s an error. Since the system automatically scans the returns as they come in, the e-file accuracy rate is more than 99 percent.

When you e-file, business information and account numbers are secure. Returns are received over secure phone lines, and bank account information is safeguarded.
Additionally, small businesses can pay their balances due electronically through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. You might even be able to e-file for free.

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Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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