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Baan, Microsoft expand partnership

Baan adopts the software giant's component object modeling development infrastructure for all of its BaanSeries based products.

DENVER--In its continuing effort to deliver an enterprise application suite for the front and back office, Baan yesterday announced an expansion of its relationship with Microsoft.

Baan will adopt the software giant's component object modeling development infrastructure for all of its BaanSeries based products. BaanSeries encompasses all of the Baan product line that at one time was called Baan V.

To give credence to the endorsement, Microsoft CEO and chairman Bill Gates outlined his company's relationship with the Dutch business software maker.

"Microsoft is dedicated to ERP requirements," Gates said to a packed Colorado Convention Center. noting that Microsoft will help Baan break down the complexity of its product. "Ultimately the goal is to have a system simple enough for the end user."

As part of the expanded relationship, Baan has wholeheartedly committed to Microsoft's COM (component object model), and DCOM (distributed component object model. It will adopt the two models as the primary development, deployment, maintenance, and interoperability infrastructure for all BaanSeries products, including the recently announced Baan ERP and AurumFrontOffice suite, both of which rolled out today at BaanWorld.

Although analysts said the Microsoft relationship has been ongoing for sometime, it makes sense to illuminate it as Baan steps into the small-to-middle market where the majority of the customer-base is NT saturated. Baan yesterday also launched a new channel organization, Baan Midmarket Solution (BMS), which focuses on supporting a global reseller and distribution network to deliver Baan's product line to the mid-market.

"Baan is a great ally for Microsoft," Gates said. "By combining Baan's deep knowledge of the enterprise with Microsoft technologies, we have created the building blocks necessary for a comprehensive 'Digital Nervous System.'"

As an example of this relationship Aurum, a subsidiary of Baan, debuted its AurumFrontOffice, a customer relations software that focuses on sales, configuration, and call center interactions. Using Microsoft's COM, ActiveX, and Visual Basic Active Documents, the suite disseminates customer information and other corporate data through the enterprise with prepackaged integration with Microsoft's Office, support for BackOffice SQL Server, and further integration with BaanERP, or other ERP and financial systems vendors. Baan purchased Aurum last August.

Although Aurum and Baan are still working on pricing, a renamed version of BaanFrontOffice is the customer interaction component for Baan's enterprise application package.

In addition, Baan debuted new additions to its supply chain offering, Advanced Planning and Demand Planning. Development, implementation, and support of the new advanced planning and scheduling software suite will be under the control of the newly formed Baan Supply Chain Solutions or BaanSCS.

"The important thing here is that they've made supply chain its own unit, where they'll have their own marketing and thir own product," said Dennis Byron, an analyst with Information Data Corporation . "It's good for users because they have the choice to buy the solution as a separate product or as part of Baan's whole package."

Baan appointed executive vice president Amal Johnson to president of BaanSCS. Johnson spear-headed many of the last major acquisitions for Baan, including Aurum, and enterprise accounting systems developer The Coda Group.

In related news, Baan announced its financial results for the first quarter after the closing bell today. Total net revenues for the first quarter of 1998 were $176 million, up 32 percent over net revenues of $133 million for the same period last year. License revenue grew 8 percent to $90 million, compared to $83 million the year before. Among other things, the company attributed the earnings to significant progress in the execution of its mid-market strategy.