Aspen - To Netfinity and Beyond

  • Written By: Steve McVey
  • Published: July 27 2000

Aspen - To Netfinity and Beyond
S. McVey - July 27, 2000

Event Summary

Aspen Technology, Inc. recently announced plans to leverage IBM resources to provide solutions for supply chain management (SCM) customers in the chemicals, petroleum, plastics, paper, metals, pharmaceutical, and other process industries. Under the new alliance, IBM and Aspen will work together on marketing, sales and future product development. Aspen will incorporate standards and technologies of IBM's Application Framework for e-business obtained through its PartnerWorld for Developers program. IBM and Aspen are laying odds that process manufacturers will step up spending on information technology, specifically B2B supply chain management, and want to play an important role in that growth.

IBM's PartnerWorld for Developers is comprised of strategic relationships with leading application developers. Under the initiative, developers gain access to new customers and revenue opportunities through IBM's extensive marketing, sales, and solutions resources. At the same time, developers commit to lead with IBM's middleware, server platforms, and services.

The more tangible objectives of the alliance include Aspen porting its applications on IBM's DB2 Universal Database as well as Netfinity servers and IntelliStations. In addition, IBM's MQ Series message queuing middleware will be made available alongside Microsoft's MSMQ for complex application integration.

Market Impact

Of the objectives outlined in the new alliance, only one stands a chance of producing significant impact on the rest of the supply chain management market - Aspen applications on Netfinity servers running Windows operating systems. The fact is, Aspen already supported IBM's MQ Series and DB2 for many of its applications. The alliance may give Aspen an added incentive to extend support to all of its applications, but given the broad acceptance of DB2 and MQ Series in the market, this will hardly be a differentiating factor. Support of Netfinity servers will give Aspen another door into the $6 trillion process industries.

What would have made the alliance much more interesting is a port of Aspen applications over to Linux based Netfinity servers. Not too many years ago, the prospect that ERP and SCM vendors would embrace Linux as a serious platform for their applications seemed laughable. This changed as Linux popularity grew and established hardware vendors like IBM jumped aboard the bandwagon.

Computer Associates took an early step into the Linux world last year when it became the first system management vendor to offer its Unicenter TNG framework on CDs from several Linux distributors, including Red Hat and Caldera. Later, IBM announced it would partner with SAP to develop a Linux version of R/3 in the Intel based Netfinity servers. Oracle continues investing in Linux and announced last April a version of Asian based Turbolinux optimized for its database software. More recently, i2 Technologies embarked on a Linux initiative in conjunction with its megalliance with IBM and Ariba.

Though Windows NT currently predominates among low-end server operating systems, continued support for Linux by IBM and others will encourage more enterprise software vendors to port applications to it, creating serious competition for NT 4.0 and Windows 2000.

User Recommendations

Current and prospective Netfinity users in the process industries should welcome the prospect of having an additional choice in enterprise software represented by as-yet unnamed components from Aspen's Plantelligence, Enterprise Optimization, and eSupply Chain suites. Linux users will have to wait and see how well the new partners work together on the Windows version before seeing signs that Aspen solutions will appear on Netfinity Linux machines.

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