But Wait, There's More
Momentum is Key for iSeries Initiative for Innovation
It's been a little over a month since IBM unveiled its plan to pump big bucks into the iSeries through its iSeries Initiative for Innovation. The plan, if you remember, calls for reinvigorating the platform, in part, by committing about $50,000 to each to 2,500 largest ISVs that write business applications for OS/400, and the 180 companies that write OS/400 application development tools and assorted utilities.
Back in February, when IBM made its announcement, it said that it had already signed about 60 tools providers to the tools component of the initiative, and expected that number to quickly grow past 100 tools providers. At the COMMON conference in Chicago in mid-March, IBM executives stood up and said they had about 60 tool providers in the Tools Innovation program, and then proceeded to bash Microsoft for the stagnation and lack of new membership in its Midrange Alliance program, which was launched three months earlier.
However, at the beginning of April, there were still exactly 60 tools providers signed up on the iSeries Developer Roadmap, which you can view in detail on IBM's site. We know IBM isn't known for moving fast, but it would have been nice to have seen some growth and some new names in the tools area by now. IBM has pumped more energy into the OS/400 platform than we have seen in years, and it would be a shame to squander that momentum.
There are some fairly large and important vendors conspicuously absent from the roadmap, including Attachmate, NetManage, and WRQ, all of which enable the separation of business logic from the interface and (we would think) are a perfect fit for IBM's strategy.
Dutch Chambers of Commerce Pick IBM Over EMC for Storage
The Dutch Chambers of Commerce will simplify its computing environment through the use of virtualization technologies available in new eServer i5 and TotalStorage hardware, IBM has announced. The capability to carve up an i5 570 into 14 logical partitions and the DS8000 storage array into two logical two arrays will help the Dutch organization support 21 chamber of commerce offices--each of which are independent--from a single location in Woerden. "For us, it is vital to preserve this distributed organization while taking full advantage of centralization benefits at the same time," says Mansour Jouhri, IT architecture manager at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. "IBM's partitioning technology provided the means to do just that."
The virtualization technology in the iSeries server and the TotalStorage array were instrumental in the organization overruling its first choice for storage, EMC. The chamber "had initially chosen EMC. Being able to change their minds was a great success that took a lot of effort," says Sybe de Jong, commercial manager at eStorage, the IBM business partner that closed the deal. "We're very proud that we've been able to sell the first TotalStorage DS8000 in such a competitive market."
Lawson Profits Despite Slowdown in Software License Sales
Despite seeing its license revenue plummet by 45 percent during the most recent quarter, and its total revenue decline by 10 percent to $82.7 million, ERP software developer Lawson Software still managed to increase its net income as a result of aggressive cost cutting and corporate restructuring.
Revenue from new software license fees--the most important indicator of the health of a software company--dropped by $11.3 million to $13.9 million for the third quarter of its 2005 fiscal year, which ended February 28. Offsetting the decline slightly was a small up tick in Lawson's services revenues, which increased $2.4 million to $68.8 million during the quarter. Despite the poor showing in new license sales, the company was able to increase its profit by $200,000 to $2.8 million during the quarter, thanks to a combination of aggressive collections, favorable reductions in bad debt, product warranty and income taxes, and increased interest income. The improving profitability of the company satisfied Wall Street, and Lawson's stock, which is traded on the NASDAQ National Market, barely moved off its mark of about $6 per share, giving it a market cap of about $585 million.
Jay Coughlan, Lawson's president and CEO, said the company suffered from "ongoing questions about the direction of the software industry, which resulted in extended sales cycles and some delayed purchasing decisions." Indeed, Oracle's heavy-handed acquisition last quarter of PeopleSoft and the vast J.D. Edwards installed base left many ERP software users questioning their product decisions and strategies. But Lawson, like other players in the market for OS/400 ERP software, also senses this has opened up an opportunity to recruit disaffected J.D. Edwards shops. As a result, Lawson is re-upping its commitment to IBM and the OS/400 platform, which currently accounts for about 20 percent of its installed base. "We see a great opportunity to reach out to the iSeries," Terry Plath, Lawson's director of marketing, said at the COMMON conference in Chicago last month. That includes staying loyal to IBM and its middleware stack, including WebSphere and DB2.
Intentia Signs Chinese Reseller and Nabs SAP Exec
Intentia continued to push into the Asian ERP market last month with a new partnership, and also announced a new head of its global support organization.
Intentia's new partner, NCS, will resell Intentia's Movex software and provide services across mainland China. Having been born as the computing arm of the Singapore government 23 years ago, National Computer System was privatized in 1996 and has since grown into a regional powerhouse, with 16 locations in eight countries across the Asia/Pacific region and with a specialty in outsourcing. Under the new partnership, Intentia and NCS will target manufacturers and distributors in China, where NCS employs 500 people across eight locations.
The formation of the partnership builds on the corporate restructuring put in place last summer by Intentia's new president and CEO, Bertrand Sciard, which includes components to bolster a struggling company by expanding more aggressively into Asia. Under this plan, which also included a 16 percent staff reduction and offshoring of Intentia's internal work to two Indian firms, the Swedish ERP software company would expand its reach by adding resellers across Greater China, South Asia, Japan, and Korea.
While Intentia continue to make headway on its Asian expansion, it also shored up its current worldwide installed base of 3,400 customers by hiring a former SAP executive, Guenther Tolkmit, to head up its global customer support and delivery organization. In addition to hiring Tolkmit, Sciard said several new positions have been added to the support team in the Intentia Americas organization, including a customer coordinator who will serve as the single point of contact for customers with open support issues. Sciard made this announcement at the company's recent annual U.S. customer conference, Interact, in Phoenix, Arizona.
IBS Spins Off English Unit, Buys Australian Developer of ERP for Publishers
International Business Systems has sold an English business unit and acquired a new one in Australia. The Swedish ERP software for the OS/400 platform vendor says it has signed an agreement to sell all of its UK-based IBS Public Services unit for €75 million (or $96.7 million at current exchange rates) by means of a fully underwritten IPO on the London Stock Exchange. IBS Public Services, which sells public sector software and services, has little in common with the rest of IBS, and its spin-out will allow IBS to focus on its efforts on selling supply chain software to manufacturers and distributors. The unit, which had total revenues of €24 million, or about $31 million, in 2004, will be listed on the exchange as IBS OPENSystems when it is spun out in May.
Meanwhile, IBS continued its move into vertical niches with its acquisition of TMS, an Australian software company that develops supply chain software for the publishing and consumer electronics industries. TMS' main offering is an ERP suite called Bookmaster that's used by 80 publishers in 16 countries. IBS says Bookmaster is the most widely used ERP suite in the publishing world, and counts Penguin, Pearson, HarperCollins, McGraw-Hill, and Harvard University Press among its users. Bookmaster is also used by several consumer electronic distributors, including Pioneer, Makita, and Sanyo, IBS says. IBS will pay €7.6 million (about $9.8 million at current exchange rates) for TMS, which had €6.9 million in revenue last year. TMS was privately owned and had 60 employees, all of whom will be kept on with IBS Australia unit, which now boasts 100 employees. "By acquiring TMS, we gain substantial increase in market share in Australia and establish a leading position as a business software supplier to the publishing industry," says Magnus Wastenson, CEO and President of IBS.
Quadrant Gains ServerProven Status from IBM
Quadrant Software has achieved ServerProven status from IBM for its entire suite of OS/400-based Electronic Document Distribution products, the company announced recently.
Quadrant's EDD suite includes products like Formtastic and FastFax that automate the digitizing of business documents like invoices and purchase orders, and their delivery via print, fax, and e-mail. In addition to telling prospective customers that the EDD suite has been successfully installed at least one time (although Quadrant has many, many more), the ServerProven program provides new Quadrant customers with rebates worth up to $68,000 (that is for software installed on an i5 595) when they install and run the EDD suite on a new iSeries server. "Our EDD solutions are installed at thousands of companies across the globe and we enjoy the highest customer service rating in the market," says Gary Langton, president of Quadrant Software, which is in the process of moving its office from Taunton, Massachusetts, to Tampa, Florida; its new office will open July 1. For more information about IBM's ServerProven program, and to find specific ServerProven applications, check out IBM's Solution Connection Web page.
Bottomline Buddies Up with the Oracle
Bottomline Technologies has been designated a Five-Star Partner of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), a group of 2,500 companies that serves as an advocate for Oracle partners and users.
As a Five-Star partner, which Bottomline says is the highest partnership available to any third-party provider, Bottomline and Oracle will work to ensure that Bottomline's products, including PayBase, WebSeries, and Create!form, work with the Oracle E-Business Suite 11i and Oracle Database 10g products. Not mentioned in the announcement is any cooperation between Bottomline and Oracle for use of the Create!form suite with Oracle's World and EnterpriseOne ERP products. Create!form had been the only document management tools recommended by J.D. Edwards, which Oracle purchased with its PeopleSoft acquisition earlier this year.