Linux CRM application to be released by JD Edwards

Fueled by growing business deployment of Linux in the financial services market, software and services vendor J.D. Edwards & Co. will release a Linux-ported version of its customer relationship management (CRM) application by the end of the year.

In an announcement yesterday, the Denver-based company said it will partner with IBM Corp. for hardware to offer a Linux version of its CRM for Financial Services application, which is available for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris operating systems.

The deal marks the first Linux application from J.D. Edwards, which has seen a growing adoption of the open-source operating system among Wall Street brokerages and large banks, said Lenley Hensarling, vice president of product management.

After assessing the emerging marketplace, the deal with IBM made sense because "we felt there was some real demand there to exploit," Hensarling said.

Under its partnership with IBM, the new software will run on IBM's xSeries, Intel-based server hardware, which will be scalable depending on customer requirements. The CRM application is Java-based, will run atop IBM's WebSphere software and will include IBM's DB2 database.

The application will support Linux distributions from Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat Inc. and Nuremburg, Germany-based SuSE Linux AG. Pricing isn't yet established.

Analysts have varying views of J.D. Edwards' first Linux application.

Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting in Daly City, Calif., said the new software will be good for user companies because it will run on a robust and reliable operating system, as well as provide an alternative to running under Microsoft Windows. J.D. Edwards' decision to introduce a Linux product is further evidence of the operating system's maturity in the marketplace, he said.

But Bob Chatham, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said that J.D. Edwards is "focusing on the wrong thing" by porting its CRM application to Linux. Users don't care what operating system it runs on; they care about whether the information it provides is useful to their sales and marketing workers, he said.

"It's more about 'How am I going to get value out of these things?'" and whether the information it garners justifies its cost, Chatham said.

Scott Handy, director of Linux software solutions at IBM, said the deal extends a long partnership between the companies. Under this agreement, they'll target the package to midmarket financial institutions with 1,000 to 5,000 employees, he said.

The CRM application will allow user companies to integrate a range of customer information, including investment accounts, insurance accounts, wealth-management strategies and more into a single view of the customer, Handy said. User companies will get support for everything from the hardware, software and Linux operating system from J.D. Edwards and from IBM's Global Services unit, he said.

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