|Strengthened Partnerships Enhance System i Offerings|
|Analysis - Analysis of News Events|
|Written by Lee Kroon|
|Sunday, 16 September 2007 18:00|
First Stop: Inforum 2007
Last week, Las Vegas played host to Infor's annual user conference. As the companies in attendance learned, the mid-market application vendor is strengthening its ties with IBM in general and the System i in particular. That should come as a comfort to the 16,000-plus companies that run Infor products on the platform.
While Infor has always put a priority on its partnership with IBM, its latest ventures with Big Blue are raising its System i commitment to a new level. Back in June, Infor launched the System i Center of Excellence to help its customers extend and enhance their applications on the platform. The Center is also creating the Infor Development Framework for IBM System i, an application design and development platform for the vendor's products that run on the server.
One month later, Infor deepened its commitment by joining the System i Vertical Industry Program. At the announcement, Infor joined with IBM to promote its System i-based ERP A+ solution to distributors of janitorial and sanitation products. The two vendors also stated that they are actively marketing two other System i offerings—Infor HCM Infinium and ERP Xpert—to the hospitality and automotive industries, respectively.
In Las Vegas last week, Infor joined IBM once again to announce a partnership to target discrete manufacturers worldwide with Infor ERP LN. Indeed, the two vendors will codevelop ERP LN packages for mid-market manufacturers in several subindustries. As some of you IT historians may remember, ERP LN is the latest version of the Baan ERP system that SSA Global Solutions purchased back in 2003. It runs on System i Linux partitions and several other servers. Now that Infor owns SSA, it has decided to breathe new life into the old Baan solutions by enhancing ERP LN. Improvements that are in the wings include multi-books accounting, enhanced reporting services, and interoperability with the Infor Open SOA architecture.
If their recent moves are any indication, Infor and IBM have decided that their business interests are increasingly in alignment with each other. IBM likes to work with Infor because it has no ambitions to compete against the computer giant in the database and middleware markets. That makes for a less-complicated partnership than the ones that Big Blue must maintain with Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP. For Infor's part, IBM is a welcome ally in its struggle to compete with these same companies. The partnership puts a halo of validity around Infor's solutions that could help the vendor get into accounts where the "Big Three" usually dominate.
Next Stop: VoiceCon 2007
Speaking of partnerships, Infor is not the only vendor that IBM has been courting lately. Last month, the computer giant inked an agreement with telecommunications vendor Siemens to transform Lotus Sametime into a robust telephony platform. The agreement, which was unveiled at VoiceCon 2007, is part of an IBM effort to make Sametime a comprehensive unified communications platform.
To make Sametime a place where users can receive, place, and manage phone calls, IBM will integrate Siemens' OpenScape technology with its product. The result of the effort, which IBM has dubbed Lotus Sametime "Unified Telephony," should ship by mid-2008.
While Siemens has an excellent product in OpenScape, it is somewhat puzzling that IBM would turn to the telephony vendor. That is because Big Blue forged a similar agreement with Siemens competitor Cisco earlier this year to bring telephony functions to Sametime. At the moment, it is not entirely clear what role Cisco's "Click to Call" capabilities will play on Sametime versus OpenScape. It is also not clear what motivated Siemens to lock arms with IBM, as the telephony vendor is providing similar technologies to Microsoft. More than likely, both vendors are hedging their bets on who will come out on top in a converged communications market that is barely out of its infancy.
By the way, the System i team used VoiceCon 2007 to preview a future offering that pairs Unified Messaging for WebSphere Voice Response with VoiceRite's Unified Messaging plug-ins for Sametime and Lotus Notes 8. Since WebSphere Voice Response is not exactly a cheap product, the offering will largely be restricted to high-end accounts. For such shops, however, the offering could significantly reduce costs by combining voicemail, instant messages, email, and other Web-based communications on a single System i.
More to Come
Now that summer vacations are behind us, the IT industry is gearing up for its annual flurry of fall conferences. I am packing my bags and charging my laptop so that I can bring you news from the front lines, so stay tuned.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 November 2007 10:52|