JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today accelerated its strategy to make big data and cloud computing a reality for businesses of all sizes with new Power Systems and Storage Systems that provide deep insights into big data, simplify data storage in the cloud, and can reduce costs through consolidation. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130205/NY54327)(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090416/IBMLOGO) The announcement was made today in Johannesburg, South Africa, where IBM convened over 100 CEOs, CIOs, government officials, and academics at a leadership forum to chart a course for future business opportunities across the continent. Starting at $5,947 (USD), IBM has created an affordable family of entry level and midrange Power Systems based on new POWER7+ processors. The new systems are optimized for IBM's industry-leading analytics software, and use underlying technologies from the groundbreaking Watson system including POWER processors and big data analytics. In addition to IBM's longstanding relationship with Avnet and Arrow, today's news comes on the heels of IBM's recent agreement with Ingram Micro and TechData to resell IBM's entire portfolio of Power Systems, PureSystems, and Storage Systems, radically changing the market of IBM's POWER7+ technology by offering it to small and midsized businesses (SMB) and large enterprises. Many SMBs have struggled to adopt big data and private cloud solutions due to lack of in-house skills and expertise to design and maintain commodity hardware-based systems. IBM is addressing these issues with new Power Systems that don't require specialized skills and offer the latest advances in virtualization and automation to speed private and hybrid cloud creation. "Big data and cloud systems that were once only affordable to large enterprises are now available to the masses," said Rod Adkins, Senior Vice President, IBM Systems & Technology Group. "With these new systems, IBM is forging an aggressive expansion of its Power and Storage Systems business into SMB and growth markets." Firebaugh, California-based Westside Produce, a 700 person company, contracts with melon growers to harvest, market, and ship fresh melons throughout North America. The company turned to IBM's Power System to make it easier to forecast how many boxes of melons will come from multiple fields, sorted by size, variety and grade. "Perishability of produce is a key challenge in our industry, and having the right technology in place to deliver fresh produce on time is critical for the success of our growers and our company," said Justin Porter, Director of Technology, Westside Produce. "All of our mission critical systems run on IBM Power with little to no intervention required. I do spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with issues on less mission critical x86 problems." New Power Systems Tuned for Big Data and Cloud Previously available only on select enterprise IBM Power Systems, IBM is extending its POWER7+ technology to entry level and midrange systems to help clients quickly build and deploy infrastructure for private and hybrid clouds. POWER processors can be a better platform for big data and cloud than commodity x86 hardware because embedded memory and virtualization - key ingredients for analytics and cloud workloads – are built into the processor. These systems come optimized for IBM's industry-leading analytics software including Cognos and SPSS for business and predictive analytics. IBM is rolling out eight new Power Systems for SMBs and growth market companies. New entry level systems include the Power Express 710, 720, 730 and 740 family of products. Starting at $5,947 (USD), the 710 is competitively priced compared to commodity hardware from Oracle and HP. IBM also introduced two new PowerLinux Systems - the 7R1 and 7R2 – now optimized for IBM InfoSphere BigInsights and InfoSphere Streams big data analytics software. Clients can take advantage of an optional IBM Solution for WebSphere Mobile and Web Applications on PowerLinux to speed up application development for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. Two new Power Systems for midsized and large enterprises, the 750 and 760, are ideal consolidation platforms that centralize big data analytics and cloud workloads.