inFORM Decisions and DSC Find Reasons To Partner
January 9, 2012 Dan Burger
Document management meets cloud computing in this partnership of IBM i vendors that came to light last week. The two participants are inFORM Decisions on the doc management and automation side, and Data Storage Corporation on the cloud storage, data protection, disaster recovery, and business continuity side.
inFORM Decisions has been in the IBM midrange market since the days when the platform was known as the AS/400. DSC came into the IBM i market in 2010 when it acquired SafeData, a provider of hosted backup, recovery, and high availability solutions for the IBM i operating system. At that time, DSC officials said the company would aggressively bring its offerings to the IBM i community.
You might say this partnership is another step in that direction for DSC and an entirely new direction for inFORM Decisions.
“This is about information management being easier to access and easier to store,” says Dan Forster, president of inFORM Decisions. “There is no direct bundling of a combo solution. It’s a synergistic relationship that involves introducing of products to each other’s customers.”
However, Forster says this opens the door to discussions about a cooperative cloud solution for document management. Should that come to pass, inFORM could offer a software as a service (SaaS) alternative to its traditional software licensing sales model. It’s “in the talking stages,” both Forster and DSC executive vice president Peter Briggs admit, but no firm plans to introduce such an offering exist at this time.
“For the moment it is about cloud storage and archive retrieval from a co-location facility,” Forster says. “That service is available now. The next step is to allow companies to do document management processing from a remote location. That would include the option to email, fax, print, or archive it remotely.”
Briggs, who was the president at SafeData when it was acquired by DSC, describes his role is in three areas: to manage DSC’s IBM i business, develop marketing strategies, and pursue business partner relationships.
“We have partnerships with the IBM reseller community, and with the ISV community,” Briggs explains. From the ISV side, DSC has partnerships with vendors such as the retail and distribution software company Retalix (primarily with the IBM i customer base acquired when Retalix acquired the ERP software company IDS), the ERP giant Infor, dominant IBM i high availability company Vision Solutions, and Vital Records.
Briggs says inFORM Decisions will be able to introduce its clients to DSC and he suspects many of them are still struggling to deal with traditional disaster recovery and may be ready to consider managed services for that workload.
He estimated that DSC has more than 150 IBM i customers that use high availability or other types of backup and recovery services.
“I think the small to midsize IBM i market will be attracted to cloud computing,” Briggs predicts. “It’s a likely trend, but has developed slowly because at this time there aren’t enough vendors interested in developing cloud solutions for IBM i customers. We have a small cloud business for production workloads. It’s less than a half dozen, but one is a large hospital system among them. There are shops we come in contact with weekly that are struggling with disaster recovery and backup. We are well-positioned to help them do that.”
From Forster’s perspective, the document management business is gaining despite an unsteady economy.
“We grew in the total number of orders–a mix of new customers and growth with existing companies–we had last year compared to the previous year,” Forster says. “It tells me that our products are the type of solutions that appeals to companies. It saves money by cutting costs and it’s also reduces reliance on printed paper, which makes it a green solution. There’s an emphasis at companies to focus on modernizing their accounts payable and accounts receivable departments. Those areas are often the first piece that leads to other things like electronic invoices and payments. The automation of these areas, in particular, are happening on a wide scale basis at big corporations as well as small companies.”