Days before the red carpet is unrolled at SAP's North American user powwow, the enterprise computer systems giant and IBM released a number of solutions to bring SAP's core product R/3, a multifunction business application package, into the office, store, and warehouse.
First on the list are IBM Network Stations running the Java-enabled R/3 Business Software Suite, a new version of Lotus Connection for R/3, and SMOOTH Services & More Scaleable R/3 Servers. All of these features will bring R/3 customers Internet ready workstations, said executives from IBM.
"This will provide a richer front-end product for the SAP customer," said Jack Wagner, of IBM's global alliance division.
Wagner also said his company is also upgrading the Lotus Connection, an updated version of SmartSuite 97 and R/3, which allows R/3 users to analyze, enhance, and distribute R/3 report data using Lotus desktop applications and Lotus Notes.
"With these Lotus applications we are building a bridge between SAP and the small-to- middle market user," Wagner said.
IBM will also debut Ready to Run R/3 for its AS/400e server, which will give users "an all-in-one prepackaged" product for SAP R/3, according to IBM.
Christine Bartlett, of IBM's AS/400e and R/3 alliance division, said the package is designed to speed implementation, provide high-availability, and reduce costs for smaller businesses with smaller pocket books than their corporate counterparts.
The package will include an AS/400e production server and one AS/400e test server, networking hardware that includes an Ethernet switch and hub, an R/3 configured high speed printer, as well as management tools providing server management, client management, and network administration.
"With this package, we can use R/3 on a single AS/400e footprint," Bartlett said.
Setting its sights on the budding electronic commerce market, Big Blue unveiled this latest computer family, AS/400e, designed to conduct a wide range of businesses on the Internet.
IBM expects the line, the latest in its AS/400 family of minicomputers, will give new life to its hardware business, which has shown sluggish revenue performance this year as the company works through product transitions in several of its high-end lines.
The new servers represent a major power upgrade over their predecessors, providing up to six times the processing capabilities of earlier models, Bartlett said.