IBM, J.D. Edwards to co-develop server solutions

At its Focus 2001 user group conference in Denver this week, J. D. Edwards & Co. will announce a joint hardware and software development project with IBM's eServer division.

The project will see IBM build customised versions of its AS/400 series, recently renamed the iSeries, to run updates of J.D. Edwards' collaborative commerce and core ERP (enterprise resource planning) solutions.

According to a source within Denver-based J.D. Edwards, the co-branded server solution will be aggressively priced and targeted at Compaq's mid-market customer base. Industry analysts see the move as a broadside across Microsoft's bow as well -- late last year Microsoft acquired Great Plains Software, a mid-market ERP vendor.

"Microsoft has always tried to go after the AS/400 market and Compaq is one of Microsoft's strongest partners in that effort," said Thomas Brown, vice president of Orion Consulting. "Last year, many people were saying the AS/400 was finished. I think this says, 'Don't count it out yet,'" Brown said.

The systems will not only be co-branded but co-marketed through IBM's Business Partners worldwide reseller channel and J.D. Edwards' direct sales force, as well as its partner network.

The alliance is a smart move on the part of J.D. Edwards for a number of reasons, Brown said.

The new agreement indicates the strength and market potential of the iSeries customer base, and if the offerings are aggressively priced, they will allow small to medium-size business to keep their current legacy infrastructures while tapping into the latest SCM (supply-chain management) systems, Brown said.

According to an upcoming joint announcement, the servers will be configured to run HTML, Java, or Linux, and will use current iSeries processor technology that can handle 6,000 concurrent users running J. D. Edwards' OneWorld Xe SCM applications. The pre-configured servers are expected to ship during the third quarter of this year.

The OneWorld applications can now run with clients under HTML, Java, or Windows NT, said J.D. Edwards officials. Forthcoming versions of OneWorld software for the AS/400-iSeries line will also support the Linux environment. J.D. Edwards is committed to expanding its support for these markets and a new code base, officials said.