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IBM Taps ASP Pioneer

IBM Corp. seeks to bring on board one of the pioneers of the application service provider space.

The company recently announced an agreement to acquire Corio Inc. for $182 million in cash. Corio, launched in 1998, was among the first wave of ASPs. It weathered the tech meltdown and now hosts software from vendors Ariba, Oracle (including PeopleSoft), SAP, and Siebel among others. Corio’s customers include Birkenstock, Ingersoll-Rand, and Toshiba. The company extended its contract with HMSHost, which operates airport restaurants and retail areas, just days before IBM’s agreement was disclosed.

Once the acquisition closes, Corio will meld into IBM Global Services, which, itself, is a major hosting operation. IBM’s hosting services revenue surpassed the $1 billion mark in 2003. And within hosting, application hosting is the fasting growing segment, according to an IBM spokesman.

Worldwide hosted software sales will grow at annual clip of 26 percent through 2007, IBM reports, citing International Data Corp. numbers.

On the partner side, IBM Global Services has an Application Enablement Program in place to support its hosting efforts. The company works with more than sixty ISVs through the program. Corio works with integrators through its Certified Corio Applications on Demand Partner program, which includes Capgemini, Hewlett-Packard, and Unisys.

ACS Looks To Healthcare

Also this week, Affiliated Computer Services Inc. completed its cash tender offer for Superior Consultant Holdings Corp., a move intended to bolster its healthcare industry expertise.

Superior offers consulting, systems integration and outsourcing services. Half the company’s revenue comes from the consulting/integration side, while the other half stems from outsourcing. Superior’s outsourcing services include the IT variety as well as business process outsourcing.

Superior’s healthcare specialty attracted ACS.

“Healthcare providers demand strong subject matter expertise,” said Jeff Rich, ACS’s chief executive officer, during a recent teleconference.

Comstor’s Security Airlift

A teaming arrangement between Westcon Group Inc.‘s Comstor division and Cisco Systems Inc. promises to help customers deal with DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks.

The companies recently disclosed their participation in the Rapid Response distribution program. The objective is to speed delivery of Cisco’s Guard XT 5650 DDoS Mitigation Appliance. The Cisco-developed program is a service exclusive to Comstor at this point, noted Duncan Potter, Westcon Group’s vice president of worldwide marketing. Westcon distributes networking and communications gear.

Manufacturers typically lack to logistical capability to manage quick turnaround efforts, Potter said. Cisco, he added, has tapped Comstor for its distribution expertise and its proximity to a central air hub: Dulles International Airport. Comstor’s distribution center is located in nearby Chantilly, Va.

“We can have product underway in a very small amount of time,” Potter said.

How small? Potter said Cisco’ DDoS mitigation appliance can be on its way in less than two hours.

Here’s how it works: A customer or its resellers places a call to a Cisco Technical Assistance Center, which in turn contacts Comstor. Cisco already has allocated products to Comstor under the Rapid Response program. The appliance is dropped into the customer’s network to deal with the perimeter threat.

At that point, Comstor’s channel partners or Cisco personnel
will be dispatched on site to help the customer install the product,” Potter said. Customers, of course, can opt to install on their own, but Potter said he envisions that resellers will play an important support role.

The Rapid Response program is now available as a deliverable under Comstor’s Layered Security Optimized program.

EDS Expands Alliance Program

Years ago, integrator alliances tended to be stovepipe situations. A vendor contributed product, the integrator opened a center of expertise, and a cadre of consultants was trained in the use of the product. The process was repeated for subsequent allies.

Electronic Data Systems Corp.‘s Agility Alliance, however, takes a broader approach. The program encompasses nine vendors. The three most recent participants, which joined earlier this month, are Oracle Corp., SAP, and Siebel Systems Inc. The earlier Agility Alliance members are Cisco, Dell Inc., EMC Corp., Microsoft Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Xerox Corp.

EDS previously maintained alliances with Oracle, SAP and Siebel. But the Agility Alliance membership signifies a “much deeper relationship,” according to an EDS spokesman. That relationship entails embedded engineers in EDS’ development centers and collaborations on sales and marketing, he added.

Overall, the alliance targets eight vertical markets: government, communications, energy, consumer goods/retail, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and financial services.

Strengthening Its Channel

Postini Inc., which provides e-mail security as a managed service, is building up its channel.

A company spokesman said the company has made “significant gains” in partner revenue, but added that the production “has been less than what we feel the potential of our partners could be.”

With that in mind, the company earlier this month revealed a deal with Software Spectrum. The software reseller is now a Select Reseller Partner for Postini’s Perimeter Manager e-mail security service. Software Spectrum plans to offer the Postini service to its worldwide customer base, which spans 8,000 clients in 144 countries.

The Select Reseller Partner represents a new level in Postini’s umbrella Global Partner Program. The Postini spokesman said the company expects to attract a dozen to several dozen partners in the select level this year. He expects several hundred partners to join Postini at the Affiliate level, the company’s entry-level reseller tier.

CDW Breaks Records

CDW Corp. has reported record quarterly and year end revenue and net income.

For the year, the IT provider had $5.7 billion in revenue and net income of $241 million. For Q4, the company has 1.5 billion in revenue and net income of $62.7 million.

Q4 saw a surge in desktop, server, and notebook sales, according to CDW executives, who sited a continuing upgrade cycle. Notebook revenue was up 21 percent over the year-earlier quarter, while the desktop/server category grew 25 percent.

The company plans to open a new distribution center in the Western U.S. The center, the subject of a $30 million to $40 million investment, will be fully operational by the end of this year, according to the company.

Taking Their Own Advice

Computer Associates International Inc. in recent months has been cultivating an enterprise partner channel. Now the company has selected one to work on a major software implementation.

The company on Tuesday cited its hiring of Accenture to help with a SAP rollout as one of its fiscal Q3 highlights.