IBM, Vignette form e-business alliance

IBM has announced an alliance with electronic-business applications provider Vignette, directing the partnership towards the retail and financial sectors.

In the deal Vignette will offer the V/5 E-business suite of applications for integration with IBM's WebSphere platform. The Vignette products are aimed at easing high-volume transaction exchanges with shared suppliers and partners running their businesses over the Web, along with decreased time to deployment for Net-based applications.

Over the last year Vignette has seen its stock price suffer due, in part, to poor earnings. However, after the alliance was announced, the share price shot up more than 10 per cent.

Mike Vollman, senior vice president for sales, services, and alliances at Vignette, noted that the shared customers of both companies felt that a higher level of integration between the differing services would help the customers run their Net-centric applications.

"Current clients have been driving us toward this decision," Vollman said.

In order to accomplish this task, Vollman said Vignette would switch from developing some technologies and instead take on IBM products. He listed IBM's messaging products and some load balancing middleware features as two of the concessions.

Vollman said that the possibility of a partnership between the companies was easier because the V/5 applications are focused primarily on the middleware market.

While he said that Vignette's competitors tend to stick with their own products, the company sees little problem with running on top of IBM applications. Doing so allows the different products to work together more easily and to become available at a quicker clip.

"You don't need to worry about cobbling it all together," Vollman said.

Stephen Graham, an analyst for IDC, said the alliance comes in the wake of several IBM has forged with companies displaying both a different focus and market coverage to the technology giant.

"Each of the alliances is designed to fit specific verticals where IBM has a fairly decent presence," Graham said, adding that about 30 such deals have been made and that IBM looks to its partners to provide complementary aspects to its present operations.

Graham also said that with every alliance an IBM executive becomes accountable for overseeing the success of the partnership. If the pairing succeeds, Vignette can extend its presence in the retail and financial markets by taking advantage of IBM's global reach in both marketing and services, Graham said.

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