Avanade Strikes Up New Alliances

After a lengthy quiet period following its founding over a year and a half ago, the joint Microsoft and Accenture venture Avanade on Monday announced two separate alliances aimed at giving Avanade a leg up into the data center and with financial services

After a lengthy quiet period following its founding over a year and a half ago, the joint Microsoft Corp. and Accenture venture Avanade Inc. appears to be gaining some momentum.

After announcing a new portal implementation service for Microsoft-based intranets last week, the Microsoft infrastructure services firm on Monday announced two separate alliances aimed at giving Avanade a leg up in the data center and with financial services firms.

Avanade and WorldStreet Corp. struck a deal to jointly market the WorldStreet Net relationship-based communications infrastructure to financial services firms. Also on Monday, Dell Computer Corp. named Avanade its preferred services provider for customers deploying Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter on Dell PowerEdge 8450 servers.

As part of the strategic alliance with WorldStreet, Avanade will help clients integrate the enterprise collaboration infrastructure with their existing IT systems. They will also conduct joint marketing and sales activities.

For WorldStreet, the Boston-based collaboration tools provider was "looking at companies that were really hungry," said Chuck Kaliris, director of business development. "We saw them in accounts we were going after, they had Microsoft expertise, and they had a good presence in financial services." Kaliris added that Avanades backing by Microsoft and Accenture was a plus.

The alliance is Avanades first in the financial services arena, but company officials believe that together the two firms can extend the peer communications-based WorldStreet software into other sectors, such as government and insurance, according to George Lipsker, director of business development for Avanade in New York. "Were technical integrators," Libsker said. "We can give WorldStreet entry into other markets. There is no reason [WorldStreet Net software] cant be applied to the insurance or government sectors."

The WorldStreet software provides filtered, secure communications among business users in a way that allows them to share relevant information and ideas in real time. It works with a variety of systems, applications and end user devices.

The alliance with Avanade is not exclusive, however. WorldStreet intends to find another consulting partner to help with its deployments.

In Avanades more broadly focused alliance with Dell, the company will complement Dells own consulting services in deployments of Microsofts Windows 2000 Datacenter Server running on the Dell PowerEdge servers.

Avanade brings to the Dell relationship its ability to architect clustered .Net servers, its own methodologies and experience in monitoring data center server implementations, according to Ashish Kumar, CTO at Avanade. "The skill sets, global footprint, and our intellectual property were compelling for Dell," he said.

Avanade is the preferred provider for Windows 2000 Datacenter server implementations on the PowerEdge servers, and it will extend Dell consulting services in PowerEdge deployments supporting Microsofts .Net enterprise server software, including Microsoft BizTalk Server 2000, Microsoft Commerce Server 2000, Microsoft Exchange Server 2000, and Microsoft SQL Server 2000.

But the real benefit in their joint work comes with their "ability to say weve prepackaged and tested this. We can show benchmarks with sample applications," said Kumar.

Avanade has been quietly working to build its Microsoft-focused consulting services into a credible, world-class offering since its inception, officials assert. To date it has participated in some 450 "projects," according to Kumar.

Those projects are spread out across some 250 customers. Avanade has also built up a global footprint. It now has 17 locations in 11 countries, according to officials.