IBM continues its expansion into the midmarket with the announcement today that two major application vendors will embed IBM's middleware, such as WebSphere and DB2, into their own enterprise software.
Swedish supply chain application vendor Intentia International, which competes with J.D. Edwards & Co. in the business applications midmarket, will standardize and ship its J2EE-based Movex Collaboration applications on IBM open middleware and hardware that runs Linux.
This announcement is similar to an agreement IBM has with J.D. Edwards and the first of its kind in Europe.
IBM also announced a strategic alliance with Engineous Software Inc., a Cary, N.C.-based maker of process integration and design optimization software.
The alliances are part of IBM's broader strategy to partner with independent software vendors (ISVs) and let them concentrate on providing customers with business applications while IBM focuses on middleware, said Leslie Givens, director of developer relations marketing at IBM. "We're forging significant agreements with leaders in their markets so that our customer base has more choices," she said.
Gordon Haff, an analyst with Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc., said that IBM continues to make these kinds of alliances for two reasons: to get broader access to the total market and to give its customers, or potential customers, more choices. However, Haff also raised the possibility that partnering with Intentia was a way of covering itself if "they run into issues with J.D. Edwards." J.D. Edwards could be affected by Oracle Corp.'s hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft Inc., which recently acquired J.D. Edwards.
"Obviously, it's not clear that it could be a problem," Haff said. "But one could imagine a problem with some users thinking of it as a problem."
These alliances are now among hundreds of strategic alliances IBM has forged with ISVs, and some industry observers question IBM's ability to treat all partners equally. For example, Intentia is a direct competitor of J.D. Edwards, and some wonder how that will play out. But Givens said it's a non-issue for IBM.
"What we play is the underlying foundation of what [customers] want, so we're somewhat agnostic in that regard," she said.
Givens said IBM would continue to forge similar strategic alliances and that the firm will work with companies that are building on DB2, Linux and open standards. "It's when [ISVs] are building for a single platform that they get locked in," she said. "We want that open, broader model. We try to be more expansive in that regard."
Intentia will pre-integrate its Movex applications with IBM's WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Portal Express, and DB2 Universal Database for the iSeries, xSeries and pSeries platforms.
The Movex Collaboration Application groups include tools for use in several areas: enterprise management, customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management (SCM), business performance measurement, value chain collaboration and e-business.
As part of its agreement with Engineous, IBM Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) customers will be able to incorporate Engineous' Fiper and iSight technologies as a process-integration and design-optimization layer within their existing PLM infrastructures.
Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will jointly market the Fiper and iSight applications, which makes use of IBM WebSphere Internet infrastructure software and IBM DB2 Universal Database to ensure seamless operation with existing PLM environments. IBM Global Services will also provide implementation, training and hosting services for the solutions.
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