IBM's Tivoli Software unit is to launch its Express family of systems management products aimed at small and midsize businesses (SMBs) next month.

An IBM web page, that has since been taken offline, listed six Tivoli Express products that the company is going to introduce: Tivoli Identity Manager Express, Tivoli Monitoring Express, Tivoli Provisioning Manager (TPM) Express for Inventory, Tivoli Provisioning Manager (TPM) Express for Software Distribution, Tivoli Storage Manager Express version 5.3 and Tivoli Continuous Data Protection (CDP) for Files.

An IBM representative would not comment on record about the products.

However, IBM has announced plans to ship the first of the products listed on the page: a version of Tivoli Identity Manager for SMBs. The identity management software can be used by a maximum of 5,000 users, has fewer customisation features than the enterprise version and will be simpler to both install and manage, said Joe Anthony, a Tivoli programme director with IBM. It will cost US$24 per user and ship on 28 February.

Pricing for the other new Tivoli products which IBM may target at the SMB market remains unavailable, yet one analyst said that may be the most important factor in their reception by customers.

"Pricing is the number one issue for success," said Stephen Elliott, research manager at IDC. In the SMB market, IBM competes with freeware or "almost freeware," he said, and open source has improved the quality of low-cost products.

Enterprise-focused vendors such as IBM are particularly challenged in developing products that are right for the SMB market and in pricing them appropriately, Elliott said. "The products have to be very easy to use, functional, and at a low price point," he added.