IBM teams up with StreamServe to cut print costs

The document arm of Big Blue, IBM PSD (printing systems division), on Wednesday made a pact with software firm StreamServe Inc. to help customers better control the cost of business communications.

The two companies announced a joint resale and consulting agreement that will merge IBM's Infoprint Manager and Infoprint Workflow technology with StreamServe's Business Communication Platform and Profile Manager, according to Walt Noffsinger, the software business line manager for IBM PSD, in Armonk, N.Y.

By creating a single platform for the IBM and StreamServe technologies, customers can tightly couple their ERP applications, such as SAP AG, with their communication network of e-mail clients, printers, faxes, and other output devices.

"StreamServe's role is providing the communication platform, getting information to media and from media," Noffsinger explained. "StreamServe has eliminated the scripting you have to do with the SAP product, and we've surrounded that with the output management system which is connectivity to the printer and faxes, and the ability to do accounting and job submission."

Helping companies control the cost of business communication is at the heart of the alliance, Noffsinger added.

The combined IBM/StreamServe technology will also leverage existing IBM output management functions such as the ability to assign content delivery hierarchies to different company departments or individuals. In practice, this type of functionality can help businesses save money by eliminating the cost and waste of a company-wide fax or print document campaign by pre-assigning paper output to only certain departments, while the balance of the communication would be delivered by e-mail.

Noffsinger said that beyond today's real-world applications of the IBM/StreamServe technology, the alliance between the two companies will also foster technology and consulting that helps customers face future communication cost issues.

"There's a continuum of different ways of cost savings and value propositions from things that people are doing today -- from things they are having problems with today, to maybe even things they haven't thought about in the future for the way they want their ERP systems to communicate with their customers, and vice versa," he said.

The deal with StreamServe helps IBM, a leader in the ultra high-end IT printing market, to better integrate its printing systems into enterprise communication networks, explained Riley McNulty, a senior analyst at IDC, in Framingham, Mass.

"It allows IBM to make sure that it is integrated with large customers in terms of its print output as well as being integrated with the overall business communications with a given customers and their business partners," McNulty said.

StreamServe is based in Lexington, Mass.

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