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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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