IBM Offers ERP Performance Guarantees

Installing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is daunting, but IBM Corp. is trying to take some of the worry out of the task by offering, through reseller partners, a "performance guarantee" for Baan Co.'s software running on IBM RS/6000 machines.

The offer is just the first in a series that will include IBM performance guarantees for ERP software from a variety of other vendors, according to IBM. The other vendors have not yet been named. ERP software typically comprises accounting, human-resources, financial-management, facility- and supply-management functions.

IBM's Performance Protection Plan is part of its Enterprise Resource Planning Solution Series. The ERP Solution Series for Baan consists of six pre-configured RS/6000 systems, sold through resellers. The resellers guide first-time ERP customers through a selection process to match a system to their needs, after which customers can enroll in the performance plan at no extra charge over the price of the hardware and software bundle, according to IBM.

The offer is a win for both IBM and its customers, according to Brad Day, vice president and senior analyst for the Giga Information Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

It will be difficult for IBM competitors that manufacture machines used in the ERP market, such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc., to come up with a similar guarantee, Day said. "I don't think the capacity planning part of their (the competitors') organizations are as well tied into the technical side" of the businesses, Day said.

And users "would love to sign service level agreements giving them guarantees," since matching capacity planning to technology is one of the more difficult issues facing companies that are installing ERP systems, he added.

The six standard configuration packages for Baan software include bundles for 50 to 250 concurrent users; the RS/6000 F50 or S70 system; IBM's AIX 4.3 operating system; and either IBM's DB/2, Oracle Corp., or Informix Corp. database.

After consulting with the IBM reseller about the expected workload for the ERP system, the customer, the reseller, and IBM sign off on a two-year agreement specifying that the selected ERP hardware and software package will support the required number of users. If the system fails to support the specified workload, an upgrade is given to the customer free of charge.

IBM said it has elected not to quote pricing for the systems, since it varies depending on configuration and customer requirements.

The performance guarantee plan is now being offered in North America and Mexico, though IBM expects to extend the offer to other parts of the world, said an official for one of IBM's outside public relations firms, who asked not to be quoted.

General information on the IBM RS/6000 can be found at http://www.rs6000.ibm.com; more information on the Baan IBM alliance can be found at http://www.ibm.com/erp/baan.

IBM Corp., in Armonk, New York, can be reached at +1-914-765-1900 or http://www.ibm.com/

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