Psipenta Readies for North American Push

Germany’s second-largest ERP software company is coming to America.

Berlin-based Psipenta Systems ( recently opened an office in Westwood, Mass., and will launch its U.S. Psipenta ERP solution March 15 at a manufacturing trade show in Chicago.

Psipenta targets a much narrower niche of the ERP market than SAP AG (, Germany’s ERP leader. Psipenta specializes in the engineer-to-order and configure-to-order marketplace. These ERP solutions are designed to help companies build complex, one-of-a-kind projects, such as manufacturing or transportation facilities, or major components of such facilities.

"It’s traditional ERP capabilities, but engineering becomes a much more important part of the technology," says Dave Caruso, vice president for enterprise applications strategies with the analyst firm AMR Research ( Configure-to-order ERP systems contain many features beyond what standard ERP packages must contain, including tools for drawing, revision management and after-market services.

While AMR estimates the overall ERP market size for 1999 at about $19 billion, the made-to-order segment represents about $700 million of that, Caruso says. Many of the biggest players in the overall ERP market, such as SAP, Oracle Corp. and PeopleSoft Inc. (, lack the specialization to play a major role in the smaller market, he says.

"It’s a market that has a limited number of players that need to be very good at the specific issues," Caruso says. Psipenta is expected to compete more directly with companies such as Dutch-based Baan Co. (, Visibility Inc. ( of Wilmington, Mass., and Glovia Int’l L.L.C. ( of El Segundo, Calif.

Psipenta has enjoyed organic growth, with annual revenues of $22 million. With about 350 European customers, mostly in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Psipenta is correct to seek more growth in North America, which is home to the bulk of the market, Caruso says. The company seems to be serious about making a presence in the United States as demonstrated by a hefty capital outlay and aggressive plans to develop sales channels, he says.

Psipenta’s software runs on Windows NT and four major Unix platforms, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Digital and Data General. About 60 percent of Psipenta’s customers run its software on Windows NT, says Peter Lopes, vice president of marketing for Psipenta USA, and that the company’s NT installed base is growing faster than its Unix installed base.

While the company uses Oracle as its database of choice, support for Microsoft’s SQL Server will be added in April. The Psipenta product’s object-oriented architecture integrates with COM/DCOM, and the user front-end runs on Windows 95, 98, or NT Workstation.


HP Outsources NT Training Initiative

Although Hewlett-Packard Co. was a relatively late comer to the Windows NT feeding frenzy, the computer giant has pushed into the NT space with a vengeance. With the announcement of a series of online Microsoft training programs, which will be offered under the auspices of Infotec Commercial Systems Inc. (, HP is gearing up to offer education targeted at individuals working toward certification as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE) and Microsoft Certified Solution Developers (MCSD).

HP’s initiatives carry the names HP Microsoft FastPak and HP Microsoft FlexPak. According to HP representatives, both programs provide test simulations that feature questions based on real world IT scenarios, which allows a student to track his or her progress as he or she completes course work. The course is offered over the Web via Infotec Online, an online service that offers training courses for Windows NT Server, SQL Server and Microsoft Internet Information Server, among others.

"This agreement will benefit our customers by bringing our services much closer to their location and offering several new online alternatives," says Jack Caffey, HP education manager for the Americas, of the HP-Infotec initiative.

According to a report by market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC,, distance education is becoming an increasingly viable phenomenon. In the college space, for example, IDC says that the number of college students enrolled in distance-learning courses is expected to reach 2.2 million by 2002 -- up from 710,000 in 1998. "Advancements in technology are breaking down barriers and changing the way teachers can interact with students," says Sau Ching Lau, a senior analyst at IDC.

HP faces continued competition from Compaq Computer Corp., which became one of the largest service providers in the Windows NT space with its acquisition of Digital Equipment Corp. last year. In June, HP unveiled a series of initiatives designed to chip away at Compaq/Digital’s sizeable advantage in the area of service for Microsoft’s Exchange messaging and mail platform.

At the time of the announcement, HP planned to extend its messaging consulting practice by hiring an additional 1,000 Microsoft Certified System Engineers over the next three years.