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Lawson to Build on IBM Backbone

UPDATED: Applications maker Lawson Software has chosen IBM's software and hardware as its backbone of choice for building out its service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Lawson will ship its financial, supply-chain management, human resources and other applications with IBM's WebSphere, DB2, Rational and Tivoli software.

The company will tell customers the combination will work best on IBM hardware, including Big Blue's eServers and TotalStorage systems, said IBM spokeswoman Angela Sullivan.

The companies will jointly market pre-integrated solutions to customers, with IBM providing support through IBM Global Services and Business Consulting Services, said Sullivan.

Lawson also said it plans to use WebSphere as the base for its new business applications platform code-named Project Landmark, which is an effort to move customers to an SOA .

SOAs are distributed computing models that allow customers to save time and resources while triggering Web-based transactions.

Software and Web services developed on Landmark will share the same data repository as clients' existing Lawson applications. This means customers must only upgrade, not migrate to the new platform.

Landmark is evidence in the proliferation of SOAs among applications vendors. Once relegated to fanfare from infrastructure software vendors creating distributed computing backbones, SOAs and Web services have moved to the forefront of the Web for applications vendors.

German applications giant SAP might be the best example. The company has been hawking its Enterprise Services Architecture as a flexible SOA, forming a strategic relationship with Microsoft.

The vendors are developing a new composite application that hooks SAP business process software into Microsoft Office applications. Lawson's deal isn't terribly different, because it is relying on the SOA perks of WebSphere to prop up Landmark.

Though it lacks the size or heft of SAP, Oracle or even Siebel, Lawson is an acknowledged force in selling applications to medium-sized businesses. IDC expects the market for enterprise resource planning to reach $36 billion by the end of 2008, giving all of the competitors an opportunity to secure new revenue streams.

In other SOA news, IBM landed a 10-year, $94 million contract with the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, an insurance agency that handles property casualties. Big Blue will mold the firm's application, development and maintenance software into an SOA that merges redundant applications.

IBM will use its Component Business Modeling to determine which applications are valuable to the business and which processes can be refined or eliminated. IBM will trim the multiple legacy systems for policy administration and billing, saving the Fireman's Fund as much as $200 million over the contract's lifetime.