IBM has strengthened its partnership with SAP with the unveiling of Alloy, a jointly developed tool which will tie Lotus Notes groupware to SAP's business suite applications.
Scheduled for release in March and to be sold by both companies, Alloy builds on Atlantic, a project launched at Lotusphere 2008 that allows Lotus users to integrate with SAP data.
Kevin Cavanaugh, IBM vice president for messaging and collaboration, said at Lotusphere 2009 that the new software application will use Lotus Notes 8.5 to present information and data from SAP applications, including reports, analytics, and procurement and product lifecycle management tools.
Alloy will ship with a standard set of workflows, and will support Lotus Domino Designer custom workflows in order to reflect a company's unique processes.
Bob Picciano, IBM Lotus software general manager, said, "In today's challenging business environment, companies need to identify and respond to operational changes more quickly."
Alloy will drive down IT management costs, boost staff efficiency and enhance business investments made in SAP applications, Picciano added.
SAP runs a similar development effort with Microsoft called Duet, which links Office productivity applications with SAP's business processes and data.
A number of customers showcased successful trials of the new software at the Lotusphere event, such as Colgate-Palmolive and Arla Foods. Coca-Cola's chief information officer, Jean Michel, explained the growing need for integrated Notes and SAP applications.
"Going forward we need to tighten workspace between core business applications in order to simplify user experience, and to enhance key applications with collaborative features," Michel said in his keynote.
However, Burton Group analyst Bill Pray warned that, although Alloy will be welcomed by customers because of the promised productivity savings, IBM and SAP may struggle to sell the product during the recession.
"The main difficulty is the market timing: they have launched a new product in an economic downturn," he said.
"When buying a completely new product, customers have to build a business case and this will not be so easy when a lot of the benefits of Alloy are soft, like time savings."
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