Baan Ports to AS/400

First came SAP in 1996. Then PeopleSoft last year. This year it’s Baan’s turn, as the Dutch company announced last month that its BaanERP suite was available for the AS/400.

Baan’s business applications now run natively on the AS/400, with the same interface as on other platforms, and incorporate AS/400 administration functions. BaanERP has its own simplified installation process for the AS/400 and its Dynamic Enterprise Models technology accelerates the entire migration of business processes and requirements into the Baan application.

“The most attractive market for Baan is companies replacing MRP2 systems,” says Jim Shepherd, VP of research at Boston-based AMR Research. “A substantial portion of that market was closed to them without an AS/400 offering. Older versions of MAPICS, BPCS, PRMS, there’s thousands of those accounts that are ripe for replacement. But most of those people want to stay on the AS/400. This potentially opens that market up to Baan.”

Baan executives could not be reached for comment on the port to the AS/400, but Laruens van der Tang, executive VP of research and development at the company, said in a prepared statement that Baan and IBM “share a strong focus” on customer satisfaction.

“The deployment of BaanERP on AS/400e can reduce implementation and systems management complexities using the combination of Baan Company’s Dynamic Enterprise Modeling and the AS/400 [as a] technologically integrated computer platform,” van der Tang said.

Last month’s release was the culmination of nearly a year of joint development work between Baan and IBM. Baan, which maintains North American headquarters in Reston, Va., has joined IBM’s custom server program with the first AS/400s preloaded with Baan’s software due out in December.

“Baan has been available on a number of platforms and has been successful,” says Karen Smith, ERP marketing manager for IBM’s AS/400 Brand. “It adds to our solution portfolio and should impress both our installed base and new customers.”

Smith says more than 20 percent of AS/400 ERP sales are to customers new to the AS/400. She notes that the AS/400 now supports all of the top 20 ERP software vendors’ packages except Oracle, which uses Oracle’s database and would have to overcome technology hurdles to leverage DB2/400.

AMR Research ranks Baan as the fifth-largest ERP vendor in terms of 1997 license revenues, behind SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards.

Because of the AS/400’s integrated nature, installations of BaanERP should be faster and less complex than on other platforms, Smith says. “Baan has taken advantage of our architecture and come up with a unique, simplified installation process. It comes back to the AS/400 is functionally able to integrate very well with BaanERP.”

The BaanERP suite includes modules for procurement, manufacturing, product data management, distribution, warehousing, constraint-based planning and scheduling, sales, finance, service, sales & marketing and decision support. The applications support n-tier client/server topologies and Web-based browser access.

Smith says BaanERP is most often used in manufacturing and wholesale distribution with 200 users and below.

“That’s not to say they’re not a good fit for larger companies, but primarily we see them in small to medium-sized companies and departments of larger enterprises,” she says.

“They have a broad range of customers in company size,” notes Shepherd. “They sell into Boeing at the high end down to four user licenses in some places. But the 50- to 250-user range is the heart of their market and that’s a comfortable space for the AS/400.”

BaanERP is known for its Dynamic Enterprise Modeling feature (BaanDEM), a graphical control layer that sits above the application and focuses on the geographical display and management of the business processes within the enterprise. The user focuses on the processes that are executing corporate strategies rather than the detail control parameters supporting the processes.

“[DEM] allows you to model the way your company’s laid out,” says Smith. “If you add another facility, you can see how that fits in with your process flow. It’s an integrated application. It’s a perfect complement to the architecture of the AS/400 and the value proposition we offer.”

BaanERP will run on any AS/400 RISC box and Smith says IBM recommends users run it on a server model.