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IBM Launches New Partner Program to Better Serve Key Client Segments Like Booming Hospitality and Casino Industry


50% Less Expensive to Run Casino Applications on System i Compared to Windows, Says New Study

ARMONK, NY - 02 Feb 2007: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a new partner program to serve select sub-industries to drive business for its partners while speeding customer implementations with specialized, local knowledge. One industry segment where IBM has already demonstrated success is the rapidly-growing, $50 billion casino industry.

At the center of IBM’s leadership in the casino industry is the “all-in-one” System i business computing platform -- used by more than 70 percent of U.S. casino and hospitality establishments, according to a new study by International Technology Group (ITG).*

To grow its leadership position in sub-industries that IBM believes System i can provide a unique business advantage -- like casinos -- IBM today announced its new System i Vertical Industry Program (VIP), designed to help meet the needs of specific client segments by partnering with local Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and business partners that specialize in these specific industries.

The program will focus on building a strong community of solution providers, resellers, and integrators focused on solving very specific customer needs through co-marketing activity, sales support and stronger connections among partners. Customers will benefit from competitively-priced solutions optimized to integrate with the System i for faster, easier implementation.

“The System i VIP will allow IBM to provide greater value to its System i partners as well as existing and prospective customers,” said Peter Small, director of world wide sales for IBM System i partners and ISVs. “Our efforts in the hospitality and casino industry are a particularly good example of what can be accomplished when we team closely with our partners. System i has excelled in this industry for years and with our increased focus and sophisticated integration, we expect to capture an even larger segment of the casino market.”

The System i VIP for the hospitality and casino industry includes solution providers Agilysys, Bally Technologies, InfoGenesis and Infinium from Infor to help IBM increase its reach to casino resorts around the world with local and specialized expertise. Globally, these five companies provide more than 80 percent of the solutions critical to hospitality and casino management.

IBM and its four casino-focused partners provide an integrated suite of solutions anchored by the System i platform. Integrating each of the partners’ solutions on the System i creates a “casino-in-a-box” that provides a complete IT infrastructure to handle key facets of a casino resort’s business -- from property management, casino management, and point-of-sale to financial and human resources management.

Also part of the System i VIP for hospitality and casino customers is the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), which is closely aligned with the industry. UNLV will help provide skilled IT employees for the local hospitality and casino customers the System i VIP serves.

UNLV also recently joined the System i Academic Initiative and its College of Business will begin teaching a System i-based curriculum tailored to its students in the Fall semester. Approximately 80 percent of UNLV’s undergraduates settle in Las Vegas, so its IT students will now be well equipped to operate the business systems most commonly used in Las Vegas casinos.

Casinos and hotels operate on a continuous basis and any downtime is guaranteed to impact profits. For this reason, more than 94 percent of respondents to the ITG study cited the incomparable reliability of System i as a critical reason for employing the platform.

ITG also found that it costs 51 to 57 percent less to run lodging and casino management applications on System i compared to Windows-based servers over a three-year period.

Other System i capabilities valued by casino customers include high-level system integration, exceptional scalability, low staffing requirements for system and database administration as well as distinctive strengths in disaster recovery, security and virus protection. It was generally agreed that the capabilities of System i in all of these areas were -- by wide margins -- better than those of competitive platforms, primarily Windows servers, according to ITG.

It’s these characteristics that have made the following casinos long-time System i users:

* With 16 casino entertainment properties in the US, Boyd Gaming is one of the most geographically diversified companies in the gaming industry. Its properties include the Suncoast Hotel and Casino and Sam’s Town in Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as properties in Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, and New Jersey. Boyd runs the majority of its business-critical applications on the System i because of its reliability. In fact, although the approaching Super Bowl is expected to drive a busy weekend for the casino industry, Boyd’s vice president of information technologies, Denny Frey, says he plans to be at home watching the game -- secure in the knowledge that System i will handle any transaction spike.
* Southeast Connecticut-based casino Mohegan Sun runs its entire IT infrastructure on two System i platforms. One manages front-end applications for the casino’s 300,000 square foot gaming complex -- which includes 6,250 slots -- and a 34-story, 1,200-room luxury hotel, while the other System i handles back-end applications like enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Mohegan Sun just unveiled plans for an expansion project that will add new gaming products and a second hotel tower of 1,000 rooms that will be supported by the System i as well as well as retail, food, beverage and entertainment venues that will access the platform.
* The Seminole Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Florida combine gaming and dining with spas, world-class shopping and lush pools to create a vacation destination. Seminole connects its hotel and back office systems to the System i and, like all casinos, requires that its systems are constantly available. Seminole put the reliability of System i to the test when Hurricane Wilma hit the area in 2005 and both of its properties continued to run without any issues.

In addition to the hospitality and casino industry, IBM plans to launch more than 80 VIPs for System i in 15 countries this year, working closely with IBM partners to focus on such industries as small local retailers in Australia, small health facilities in the UK and retail banks in the US. By helping partners maximize their expertise in a particular local industry, the program will allow partners to replicate their efforts in similar sub-industries elsewhere in the world.

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1 * From “Value Proposition for IBM System i: Business Case for Gaming and Hospitality Deployments” Industry Management Brief, International Technology Group (ITG), December 2006.

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