MACWORLD - First ERP for X Server unveiled

Powereasy, an enterprise software provider, will announce on Monday at Macworld Expo in San Francisco the first ERP application for Apple Computer Inc.'s X Server platform.

The application, which will be offered as a bundled solution along with Apple hardware and PowerEasy installation services, represents a major turning point for Apple in its attempt to break out of the desktop market and move up to the server-based mid-market.

PowerEasy ERP consists of an accounting package for financial management, an order management package, an inventory management solution, and e-commerce software.

"This is built on Mac OS X and it has the stability of the Unix environment," said Kikkeri Balvenkatesh, chief operating officer for PowrEasy, based in San Jose, Calif.

The PowerEasy applications are built on top of Sybase's Adaptive Server Enterprise 12.5 relational database management solution and are optimized for that environment.

Sybase earlier this year became the first enterprise-level database provider to port a major database management application to Apple's new Unix-based operating system.

One industry analyst said that an ERP application for X Server is a significant breakthrough in the enterprise for Apple.

"This is a notable data point for Apple in that it is a higher-end application for the X Server platform, said Nathanial Palmer, chief analyst for Delphi Group, in Boston.

Some industry analysts remain skeptical about Apple's long-term success in targeting the enterprise beyond its current niche markets, which include life sciences, publishing, and education.

"The Mac has never been very successful as a corporate standard on the server side, and Sybase has not distinguished itself as a major provider for the ERP market either," said Josh Greenbaum, principle at Enterprise Applications Consulting, in Daly City, Calif.

However, PowerEasy appears savvy enough not to be targeting the Fortune 100 companies, Palmer said. The high-end market for ERP is somewhat saturated and companies, including Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP, are turning their attention to the mid-market.

"The mid-market is where the growth is and that is why everybody is redoing their focus on that, and that is where Apple is focusing its attention, too," Palmer said.

PowerEasy, in fact, will roll out its solution in stages, first targeting business users who have outgrown a single Mac client/server solution and are moving into a multiuser environment, according to Balvenkatesh.

"A typical customer profile is in the small to mid-market, perhaps workgroups within large companies with (US)$1 million in sales. Eventually we will also target larger companies in such areas as manufacturing," Balvenkatesh said.

PowerEasy ERP will ship in the first quarter and will be priced at $40,000 per CPU. The company will also offer a two-CPU license with the Mac X Server hardware and installation for $100,000.

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