Top Line: November 1, 2001

IBM and EMC both are claiming victory in a showdown to meet Wal-Mart's IT needs.

Special Delivery To Wal-Mart

IBM and EMC both are claiming victory in a showdown to meet Wal-Marts IT needs.

IBM recently disclosed that Wal-Mart plans to standardize its "worldwide data center infrastructure" on Big Blues Enterprise Storage Servers (code named Shark) and eServer z900 mainframes.

Within hours of the IBM announcement, EMC was asking for equal time. In an unsolicited e-mail to Smart Partner, an EMC spokeswoman wrote that IBM "bundled the storage [systems] into what was primarily a mainframe and services deal, [which] enabled [IBM] to sell the storage at a deep discount. Storage represented a small fraction of the entire transaction."

EMC continues to be Wal-Marts primary information storage provider, and Wal-Mart continued to invest in EMC information storage systems throughout 2001, the spokeswoman says.

Separately, EMC on Oct. 29 unveiled a new line of "WideSky" middleware to manage third-party storage systems.

EMC, known primarily as a hardware vendor, had about $1.2 billion in software sales last year, according to George Mele, director of software marketing at the Hopkinton, Mass.-based company.

New Code For Consultants

Software development is nothing new for Big 5 consulting shops.

However, Accenture is one of the first major consulting firms to write code for Microsofts .Net services. The consulting firm unveiled the prototype code at the Microsoft Developers Conference last week in Los Angeles.

The Accenture application, called Dynamic Delivery, is designed for the package delivery industry. The prototype uses .Net My Services utilities including .Net Presence, .Net Calendar, .Net Notifications, .Net Wallet, and .Net Locator.

Baiju Shah, a manager with Accenture Technology Labs, says one objective of the prototype was to "explore the breadth" of .Net My Services (formerly known as "Hailstorm").

The prototype team discovered, among other things, the need for .Net My Services to support different personas for the same individual (a person may have different profiles for work and home, for example). "That level of profile management will be built out eventually," adds Shah.

Scott Rose, a partner responsible for North American development activities at Accenture Technology Labs, says Accenture is looking at other applications for .Net My Services technology.

Keep Your Options Open

A recent study by Cutter Consortium, an Arlington, Mass.-based IT consultancy, suggests that the benefits of engaging multiple outsourcing vendors outweigh the significant drawbacks.

Some 73 percent of the 111 surveyed IT professionals said they are using more than one service provider, and only 11 percent are employing a sole-source approach (the other 16 percent didnt know).

Mike Epner, a Cutter senior consultant, says most customers believe multi-sourcing allows them to pick and choose best-in-class vendors for specific programs, and results in more competitive bids.

On the other hand, drawbacks cited in the survey include less accountability on the part of providers; the difficulty in sharing data among providers; and higher internal and external costs.

Suns Factory Incentive

Sun Microsystems is offering factory integration services to create customized systems spanning hardware, software, storage subsystems, racks and cabling.

Suns Floor Tile Ready integration program has been in beta test for more than a year. Sun officials say the goal of the program is to make it easier for customers to order and deploy Sun equipment. Sun will provide pre-configured and pre-tested products that the company says can be rapidly installed.

Gary Beck, VP of Suns Integrated Products Group, says without pre-configuration, systems could take 10 days to deploy. With the Floor Tile Ready program, the task can be accomplished in less than one day, he says.

Suns integrators, as well as end customers, can order the pre-configured systems. With Sun doing the factory integration work, partners can focus on customizing the solution for specific vertical niches, according to Sun.

In addition, Sun plans to begin certifying Channels Development Partners as SunTone builders, a status that would let certified companies provide factory integration services under the Floor Tile Ready program. SunTone is Suns certification initiative for service providers and integrators.

Cash Or Charge?

In an effort to boost sales, Tech Data and Compaq, respectively, are offering new financing options to their partners.

Tech Data Corp. recently launched a program with Transamerica Distribution Finance that lets resellers compete for larger government contracts.

Under Tech Datas financing program for federal resellers, a solutions provider that wins a contract submits job specifications and an application to Transamerica. Upon approval, the solution provider contacts Tech Data for order fulfill- ment. Tech Data then bills Transamerica for the order.

Compaq Financial Services Corp., meanwhile, recently announced a 4-month deferral-leasing plan for Compaqs commercial product and service offerings. The offer runs through Dec. 31. Under the program, customers make no lease payments for the first four months of the lease term, followed by 20, 32, or 44 monthly payments. The program is available through all of Compaqs North American sales channels.

XP Arrives

Microsoft, as Expected, shipped Windows XP last week. The upgrade provides a single code base for Microsofts consumer and business operating systems, bringing an end to the MS-DOS, Windows 3.x and Windows 9x code bases.

Handheld Deal On Tap

Symbol Technologies has won a $20 million contract to provide handheld CRM solutions to The Pepsi Bottling Group.

The groups mobile work force will use "ruggedized" PocketPCs to improve delivery and service operations to retail customers. The PocketPCs will be configured to communicate with the bottling companys back-end CRM systems. The handheld solution, based on a Microsoft software design, will be deployed in Q2 of 2002.

Instead of competing head-on with Compaq and Palm in the mainstream handheld market, Symbol has focused its handheld effort on specific vertical-market applications like factory floor automation and mobile sales force automation.

PwC Chooses An Underdog

Cisco Systems doesnt have a monopoly on the Big 5 consulting market.

In one prime example, PricewaterhouseCoopers is deploying Gigabit Ethernet switches from Foundry Networks, as part of an internal network overhaul at the companys Auckland, New Zealand site.

PricewaterhouseCoopers worked closely with InterConnect Ltd., an integrator in Auckland, to select and test the solution.