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IBM service slashes R/3 startup

IBM announces a new service to get small and medium companies up and running quickly and with little pain on SAP's popular financial management systems.

    Big Blue wants a cut of SAP's finances and yours.

    IBM announced today a new service to get small and medium companies up and running quickly and with little pain on SAP's popular financial management systems.

    The White Plains, New York-based IBM is targeting a full implementation time of 10 to 16 weeks as opposed to SAP R/3 implementations of a year or more that are often the case at large companies.

    "This is achieved by providing customers with a complete hardware infrastructure based on SAP Ready-to-Run R/3 for IBM Netfinity or AS/400 servers rapidly implemented by IBM Global Services, with attractive financing options from IBM Global Financing," said IBM executives in a prepared statement. "SAP Ready-to-Run R/3 includes production, development, and utility servers, networking infrastructure and a pre-configured system based on best business practices."

    IBM announced its new Ready-to-Run R/3 program for its Netfinity server in September. The program for the AS/400 has been available for a year.

    IBM's services division is pushing hard to take on the lucrative SAP and enterprise resource planning implementation business as services increasingly become a solid revenue source for vendors. IBM is also locked in a battle with Microsoft to be the infrastructure supplier behind the huge business software applications that are in most companies the backbones of their entire information systems.

    The SAP financial module program is being coordinated with SAP's TeamSap program, a service in which SAP takes the lead in guiding and cooperating with its partners in implementations, integration projects, and other similar programs.

    The focus on financials could prove to be a very worthwhile venture for IBM because SAP's financial module is by most accounts SAP's strongest offering. A program to get it in quickly and cheaply is likely to go over well with cash- and resource-strapped small and medium sized companies.

    Also helping out in this effort is IBM's financing program option. It is designed to make the software purchase more affordable by letting users "spread the up-front costs over the life of the project," according to IBM executives.

    The program is ready to go immediately, according to IBM.