The ICL and Microsoft alliance is jockeying for position in the enterprise desktop services arena following the launch of their latest joint offering.
The "e.workplace" initiative is the latest project to emerge from the much vaunted, multi-million pound ICL-Microsoft pact signed in May that effectively turned ICl into a Microsoft software provider. e.workplace is designed to build and integrate Microsoft NT-based office and groupware applications, targeting all vertical sectors. The duo have conceived similar initiatives aimed specifically at retail, local government and education sectors.
"It is part of our live, learn, work and shop ethos for IT," said Graham Taylor, ICL?s enterprise infrastructure marketing manager, "It is designed to help customers bridge the chasm between current capabilities and what the business will demand tomorrow," he said.
e.workplace pushes Microsoft Enterprise Partner ICL even further into the Windows NT camp. Steve Beswick, channel sales manager at Microsoft, said: "We?ll provide the underlying technology and ICL will add value and refine it. We want to increase Microsoft products and NT in all markets."
The Ministry of Defence is a typical 'e.workplace' customer, according to Graham. Already a key customer of Microsoft and ICL, the MoD aims to wire 12,000 civilian and forces personnel through Europe?s largest Windows NT infrastructure. It expects to complete the roll-out of Exchange groupware to 12,000 users by next April.
But the initiative is seen by some industry watchers as a threat to users of ICL's other operating systems who may be forced to upgrade to Windows NT. Other major players that have struck similar partnerships with Microsoft are Digital Equipment, before the Compaq takeover, and Unisys.
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