Lawson Software continues to broaden its relationship with close partner IBM as the midmarket applications vendor Monday announced plans to enter the hosting market and use more of IBM's middleware.
Building on the company's existing Total Care maintenance and support program, Lawson Total Care Platinum due out this month will cover software delivery, hosting, support and application management services. Lawson didn't reveal specific pricing, but said the offering will be available on a monthly per user subscription basis with companies having to commit to at least a year's service.
Lawson made the announcement at its Conference and User Exchange (CUE) taking place this week in San Diego.
Customers had been asking Lawson to provide hosting for its ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications for some time, but lacking the necessary resources to offer the service itself, Lawson previously encouraged users to go with third parties, according to Lawson CEO Harry Debes. However, once customers made it clear they'd prefer to deal with a single organization, Lawson looked for a hosting provider with global reach and service capabilities.
Over the past six to nine months, Lawson interviewed a number of hosting providers, opting for IBM because of its worldwide presence and its attractive pricing, Debes said. Customers will sign a hosting deal with Lawson that will commit to 99.7 percent system uptime, while IBM will provide hosting in its data centers.
On another front, Lawson has expanded its existing SOA (service-oriented architecture) technology partnership with IBM to allow the applications vendor to embed more IBM middleware in its System Foundation technology stack. Last year, Lawson announced that IBM's WebSphere would be the core middleware for all future versions of its applications. After making that deal, Lawson then realized there were other pieces of IBM software it should've bundled into its stack and so went back and negotiated with IBM to add in WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus, Debes said.
"In each of these situations, we've not given IBM the inside track or most favored nation status," Debes said, it's just that, after consideration of other vendors' offerings, IBM has proved to be the most appropriate choice.
Last month, Lawson announced that IBM will resell Lawson's S3 and M3 applications in North America targeting small to midsize businesses and will also be involved in the development of the software for users in the financial services, fashion and food and beverage industries. Already, some Lawson operations in Europe have begun negotiating with IBM about their own reselling arrangements using the North American agreement as a framework, according to Debes.
IBM has previously resold Lawson software outside North America, notably the M3 applications Lawson gained from its 2006 US$480 million purchase of Intentia, but without the benefit of a formal arrangement.
At CUE, Lawson also unveiled a fresh user interface that will eventually become the common interface across its entire range of applications. The Smart Client UI developed in conjunction with designer Frog Design over the past 12 months will first appear in Lawson's M3 7.1 applications due to start appearing in May.
"We'll leapfrog the GUIs that are available now, including Microsoft's," Debes said. The new UI enables users to carry out specific customization and personalization to their applications and to incorporate two- and three-dimensional graphics and video.