Lawson Brings Former Intentia ERP Suite Closer to Landmark
February 13, 2007 Alex Woodie
Lawson Software has developed new technological plumbing for M3 (Make, Move, Maintain), formerly the Movex suite from Intentia, that should make future upgrades easier, streamline the move to a service oriented architecture (SOA), and pave the way toward “Landmark,” Lawson’s next-generation ERP suite. In addition to announcing the Lawson M3 System Foundation, the OS/400 ERP software giant also announced an expansion of its partnership with IBM to better serve small and mid size businesses in specific industries.
Lawson, which completed its acquisition of Intentia last year, is currently in the middle of a technological overhaul of its two main product lines: M3, which serves the food and beverage manufacturing, fashion and apparel manufacturing, wholesale distribution and asset-intensive industries; and the old eponymous Lawson products, which were rebranded S3 (Staff, Source, Serve) in the wake of the acquisition of Intentia, and which mostly serves the healthcare, financial services, retail, education, and government sectors.
Like most other ERP software companies that have made large acquisitions and are dealing with how best to maintain and continue to develop multiple ERP product lines for the future SOA world, Lawson has embraced standardized middleware and the breaking up of monolithic application stacks into smaller, more manageable components. Eventually, the company plans to unify the two products into a single Java-based product line, called Landmark, which the company announced in the spring of 2005. However, Lawson hasn’t provided a specific timeline for Landmark, and the analysts at Gartner don’t expect to see the unification of the M3 and S3 suites for five to 10 years.
The St. Paul, Minnesota, company may be cautious about upsetting its user base with a disruptive migration–and you can see why, considering the uproar Oracle caused with its Fusion strategy–but that’s not stopping Lawson from putting in place some of the technological underpinnings that will grease the wheels for an easier and less disruptive transition down the road.
Lawson made a big leap forward with its own S3 product last fall, when it unveiled Lawson 9 for i5/OS, the first release of Lawson’s RPG-based ERP suite in nearly five years, and a major milestone in Lawson’s product integration plans. One of the key moves Lawson made with Lawson 9 for i5/OS was the delivery of Lawson System Foundation (LSF) for the i5/OS S3 applications. Previously, the company offered a proprietary middleware layer, but with this release, it has standardized on IBM’s WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment (WAS ND) as the core SOA platform, among other IBM middleware products, including Tivoli and DB2. Lawson is doing the same thing with its M3 line, only different.
LSF for M3
Lawson M3 System Foundation version 7.1 is also based on WAS ND, like LSF for S3 (which is referred to by Lawson as just LSF). Lawson also delivered M3 Document Archive Foundation, a largely rebranded version of IBM’s DB2 Content Manager, a highly scalable, OS/400-based document archiving application that also provides benefits in the area of compliance.
On the Web service front, Lawson delivered M3 Business Process Management 7.1, a collection of tools for delivering M3 applications over the Web, via portals or Web services, as well as a collection of B2B application interfaces. The company also unveiled a release of Web Services Designer based entirely on Eclipse, which Lawson says helps customers start using Web services through its adherence to WS-I Basic Profile compliance and WS-Security standards.
Lawson says the main thrust behind delivery of M3 System Foundation 7.1 is making it easier for customers to perform regular maintenance, like OS/400 upgrades, without impacting the ERP applications themselves (or at least lessening the impact). “Our migration was simple and required just a couple of days work,” said Magnus Wittander, application leader at Ecophon, a global manufacturer of acoustic ceilings and wall absorbers that made the move to Lawson M3 7.1 System Foundation.
However, while the similarity in names might suggest Lawson has adopted the same System Foundation technology for its M3 and S3 lines–which would seem to be a good move–that’s not the case. According to Intentia product managers, the M3 and S3 System Foundations are entirely different products, and will remain separate for the foreseeable future.
“The goal is to share technology that strengthens the overall solution and maximizes benefits (lower TCO, innovations, etc.) with all Lawson clients,” says Lars Wettergren, senior product manager for M3 technology. “We continue to evaluate shared M3 and S3 opportunities, but the two platforms remain separate.”
The new Web services capability shows Lawson’s intent to share technology where it’s appropriate, Wettergren says. “The ‘IBM Blue Stack’ is one example, but there are also new ‘core’ Lawson technologies included,” he says. “One good example is that we now bundle a new Web services runtime (Lawson Web Services) into the M3 System Foundation 7.1. It is part of Lawson’s ‘technology DNA.’ This enables M3 clients to benefit from coming Landmark-based solutions.”
Lawson has stated its intention to eventually whittle the disparate products into a single code base, with S3 and M3 flavors riding on top. When that happens is hard to tell, partly because Lawson hasn’t set a timeline, but also because it’s hard to do (the company hopes to eventually standardize development on its Lawson Pattern Language [LPL], which would then generate Java). For the time being, the company is keeping them separate, which probably serves the customers the best, but at the expense of higher operating costs and lowered profitability.
While Lawson developers prepare for a Java future, Lawson executives also took the time to shore up the company’s relationship with its biggest business and technology partner. IBM and Lawson already have approximately 3,000 joint customers, and they’re looking to expand upon that, especially with the M3 suite.
The companies say they’re putting together end-to-end packaged solutions tailored specifically to mid-market customers in the fashion, food and beverage manufacturing, and financial services industries. The solutions will include M3 and S3 software and hardware, software, and services from IBM. IBM will also be kicking in some manpower in the form of its “SMB-focused sales territory managers” to get the word out to real companies.
Brian Sterrett, vice president of channels and partners for Lawson, says his company strives to make products simple to own, implement, and use. “This relationship with IBM will make it even simpler for customers in our service sector and manufacturing markets to make Lawson a part of their overall IT strategy. It also strengthens the base of delivery resources to support the adoption of Lawson M3 applications by manufacturing firms in North America,” he says.