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IBM, Great Plains offer outsourcing

Big Blue and the software company will provide the network infrastructure to run financial systems for small and midsized firms.

Big Blue is taking its e-commerce program to the Great Plains to create a financial management outsourcing program.

IBM and Great Plains Software in Fargo, North Dakota, announced a partnership today in which IBM will provide the network infrastructure and Great Plains the software to run financial systems for small and midsized companies.

Called Great Plains and IBM Hosting Services, the service is to be delivered through Great Plains value-added resellers and authorized accounting firms in North America.

Outsourcing is poised to be a significant market for many software vendors who are searching for new customers. While not a massive revenue generator, it does give vendors a new source of future customers. Even the large enterprise resource planning software giants like SAP, Oracle, and PeopleSoft are getting into the market.

Great Plains and IBM's program is designed to allow users to "outsource the deployment, operations, and maintenance of [Great Plains'] Dynamics financial management system, as well as IT staffing, training, and management, enabling companies to focus on their core business competencies," stated a press release on the new program.

The software is to be deployed at either a customer's corporate site or at a remote management facility and managed by IBM Global Services. Users access the software through Citrix Winframe, a system that allows users to access Windows programs that are installed on a central server rather than individual PCs.

Great Plains and IBM are targeting small and midsize companies who are searching for cures or at least a quick fix to Year 2000 problems, IT skills shortages, and a lack of resources to run their own systems but need to expand their current one.

The program is to be available by the end of the year for a monthly subscription. The price was not disclosed but the subscription fee includes hardware, application, maintenance, support, and training. Great Plains and its partners are taking responsibility for the program.