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IBM Business Partners Rave and Avnet Hall-Mark Open WebSphere Innovation Center in Heart of Downtown Manhattan.

Business Editors/High-Tech Writers

NEW YORK and TEMPE, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 6, 2001

Customer-Centric Showcase in New York Information Technology

Center Offers Unique Opportunity to Design,

Evaluate and Test e-business Solutions

Professional services firm Rave Software Solutions and Avnet Computer Marketing, Hall-Mark Division, a worldwide value-added distributor of enterprise computing products, software and services, Thursday announced the opening of an IBM (NYSE: IBM) WebSphere(a) Innovation Center, located in the heart of lower Manhattan at the New York Information Technology Center at 55 Broad Street.

The WebSphere Innovation Center is designed to provide a number of important services for value added resellers (VARs) and end users, including WebSphere software-based "test drives" on a variety of hardware platforms and operating environments and proof-of-concept support and technical briefings.

This customer-centric showcase will offer a wide range of technology-based solutions for several industry sectors, including financial services.

IBM is teaming with Rave and Avnet Hall-Mark to manage the center, and it will draw many other IBM reseller partners and customers to the lower Manhattan showroom. Rave will provide the facilities and hardware, along with e-business consultation.

Avnet Hall-Mark will not only provide the necessary product, but is bringing together several of its top VAR partners in the tri-state area to make critical WebSphere skills available at the center.

According to Rick Hamada, president of Avnet Hall-Mark, these IBM VARs and solution providers bring very targeted skill sets to sell, configure and install the IBM WebSphere suite of products.

"One VAR, for example, is highly skilled in the e-commerce applications of the WebSphere Commerce Suite," said Hamada. "Another has strong experience in the WebSphere MQ Series(a). By pooling the talents of a variety of resellers, we are able to offer scalable solutions tailored to end users, from the SMB space to the largest corporate customers."

Mike Colleary, vice president of IBM Software Channels Sales, Americas, noted that IBM continues its major investments in making WebSphere the e-business application platform.

"By showcasing the talents of our resellers and solution providers with the capabilities of WebSphere solutions, the WebSphere Innovation Centers present an exciting opportunity to help customers of all sizes in their e-business evolution," said Colleary.

"New York City was a logical choice for us," said Rave President Richard Park. "Lower Manhattan is very central to many of the customers we are trying to reach, and we expect the solutions center to be a very attractive resource for the WebSphere community."

"We are thrilled to be a part of this new venture," said George Brookler, executive vice president and general manager of Avnet Hall-Mark Software and Services. "It's vital for our economy to continue to invest in technology companies and e-business solutions. The New York facility is especially gratifying to open."

Fred Cuen, senior vice president and general manager of the Avnet Hall-Mark IBM business unit, indicates that Avnet will also provide the funding throughout the year to run exclusive skill transfer and SMB-targeted marketing campaigns.

"This will raise awareness of the IBM WebSphere solutions, the Manhattan WIC facility and the technical wizardry of our resellers," explained Cuen.

"There were many players involved in getting everything to come together, and we are thrilled to finally open for business," said Stephen Arees, VP, Business Development, Rave Software.

The grand opening of the Manhattan WIC took place Dec. 5 and 6, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 5 from 4 - 6 p.m. Executives from IBM, Avnet Hall-Mark and Rave greeted customers, partners, and others from the WebSphere community.

Avnet Hall-Mark recently announced that it would open two additional WIC facilities in the first quarter of 2002 -- one in San Antonio and another in Chandler, Ariz.

About IBM's WebSphere Software

WebSphere is Internet infrastructure software -- known as middleware -- that enables companies to develop, deploy and integrate next-generation e-business applications, such as those for business-to-business e-commerce.

WebSphere supports business applications from simple Web publishing through enterprise-scale transaction processing. WebSphere transforms the way businesses manage customer, partner and employee relationships. More information about the WebSphere software platform is on the Web at: www.ibm.com/websphere.

About Avnet Computer Marketing, Hall-Mark Division

Headquartered in Tempe, Avnet Computer Marketing, Hall-Mark Division is an industry leading, value-added distributor of enterprise computing systems, software, storage and services, marketing exclusively to the reseller channel.

With locations in Canada, the United States and Mexico, Avnet Hall-Mark is a division of the $2.85 billion Avnet Computer Marketing Group of Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT), a global distributor of electronic components and computer products and services from leading manufacturers. Avnet is a Fortune 500 company with annual sales exceeding $12.8 billion.

For more information about Avnet Hall-Mark, please visit its Web site at: www.hallmark.avnet.com.

About Rave

Rave is a professional services firm that partners with business & IT executives on their strategic eBusiness initiatives. Rave has been delivering "new economy" solutions to "old economy" clients for five years, together with IBM, Lotus, Microsoft, and other Strategic Vendors.

In 2001, the major focus is Web-enablement of key business processes and Web/legacy integration, through such solution disciplines as: business process consulting, user-experience design, application development, messaging infrastructure, and back-office integration.

Rave's main office is located in the famous New York Information Technology Center Building at 55 Broad Street in NYC's "Silicon Alley." Key customers have included American Express, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., The United Nations, UNICEF, The New York Times, CUNY, Loews Corp., and Morgan Stanley. For more information about Rave, visit: http://www.thinkrave.com/thinkrave.nsf/home.

(a) Indicates trademark or registered trademark of International Business Machines Corp. All other products or company names are used for identification purposes only, and may be trademarks of their respective owners.
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 6, 2001
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