ERP-to-Web Software Upgrade on the Way

BOSTON (05/24/2000) - German firm Impress Software AG will host a coming out party in June, with a formal launch of its U.S. operations and a new version of its software, which provides a Web interface to popular enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications from SAP AG, PeopleSoft and Oracle Corp.

Founded three years ago, Impress has already attracted an impressive roster of U.S. customers, including Compaq Computer Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Wolverine World Wide. Most of these companies use the Impress Online Information System (OIS) to give customers and business partners access to their SAP AG manufacturing systems over the Internet.

The fact that Impress OIS works directly with SAP R/3 is what attracted Wolverine, the Rockford, Michigan, footwear manufacturer. Mike Pfennig, senior director of information systems at Wolverine, says Impress was the only company he could find that had already built and deployed a Web interface to SAP's Apparel and Footwear system.

SAP's rival solution, dubbed MySAP for Footwear, is not yet available. "It's at least two years down the road," Pfennig says.

When Impress OIS is deployed by Wolverine in July, the firm's dealers will be able to log on to one of the company's Web sites and place orders. They'll also be able to view up-to-the-minute product availability, order status and account information. Until now, Wolverine's dealers had to phone or fax orders.

Impress is providing its OIS software as well as the half-dozen people required to deploy the system for Wolverine. "They've done a fine job up to this point," Pfennig says. "We've been very, very impressed."

Wolverine is introducing Version 2.5 of Impress OIS, which features an easier to use interface, speedier processing of large volumes of data and support for Linux. Other improvements include extended support for XML and electronic data interchange, redesigned back-end interfaces, and improved error and message handling. Version 2.5 makes its debut at SAP's Sapphire show in Las Vegas June 13.

"This is the most significant release we've had," says Sean O'Brien, vice president for sales and marketing. "It shows our maturity...that we're delivering a real product."

OIS is application server software written in Java with its own database. It has four components:

OIS/Agent, an online transaction tool that automates interaction with customers and feeds ERP systems.

OIS/High Availability, which provides multiple redundant application servers and databases for reliability.

OIS/Backpack, which lets users transact business even if the ERP system goes down.

OIS/Mobile for disconnected client access.

Impress OIS sells for around $250,000 and is available as a software license or as a hosted service through third parties. Competitors in Web-to-legacy systems integration include SAP, Haht Software, Intershop Communications, Ariba and Commerce One.


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