ERP on the AS/400 INS
In early 1998, IBM Corp. unveiled the Integrated PC Server (IPCS) option for the AS/400 with a great deal of fanfare. In the ensuing year, however, the IPCS--recently redubbed the Integrated Netfinity Server (INS)--has rarely been talked about and may even have been forgotten by many AS/400 administrators. With the announcement of an innovative new approach to doing ERP on the AS/400 that leverages the Integrated Netfinity Server, however, this may soon change.
Accordingly, ROI Systems Inc. (www.roisysinc.com) announced that, in tandem with system and application integrator Black Oak Computer Services Inc. (www.black-oak.com), it had made its Manage2000 ERP application available on AS/400 systems with the Integrated Netfinity Server installed. In this model, the Manage2000 ERP application itself runs on the Windows NT Integrated Netfinity Server while the AS/400 handles all file and print services, I/O and other tasks. According to representatives with both vendors, the hybrid Windows NT/AS/400 configuration required no modification of either operating system, nor of the Manage2000 application modules themselves.
"Everything that was done was done in terms of configuration and tweaking," says Bill Pisarra, executive vice president of marketing with ROI Systems. "We have made zero changes [to the application code base itself]. Not one character of code in the application was touched."
Manage2000 comprises a suite of over 40 integrated applications that facilitate production planning and control, sales and service, engineering and finance, among other business processes. According to ROI Systems’ Pisarra, Manage2000 is commonly deployed in manufacturing environments with as little as $10 million in annual revenue on up to larger manufacturers with more than $300 million of revenue.
Manage2000 is distinguished most saliently by its configure-to-order technology, which allows a reseller or manufacturer to define rules for the configuration of products, processes and prices. "This means that for a wide range of products, you can define an infinite number of models that allow you to be highly responsive to your clients," Pisarra concludes. The Manage2000 ERP product has established itself in vertical markets such as electronics manufacturing, medical device manufacturing and the production of industrial machinery.
Carl Livesay, executive VP and COO of Black Oak Computer Services, says his company first conceived of the Manage2000-on-IPCS configuration and brought it to the attention of ROI Systems. "What we saw is an opportunity to take advantage of the architecture of the AS/400 and it’s superior uptime and stability in concert with the features of ROI and provide tier one features at tier two pricing," Livesay comments.
This was important to a great deal of Black Oak Computer Services clients, many of whom already had AS/400s in-house and wanted to protect their existing investments. "With this approach, the investment that the client has in midrange architecture is protected and they can achieve superior performance and take advantage of Windows NT applications."
Black Oak Computer Services has completed a roll-out of the Manage2000-on-Integrated Netfinity Server configuration at Cambridge Int’l., a Maryland-based manufacturer of high-quality, configure-to-order conveyor belts. Cambridge Int’l. is currently using Manage2000 in a production support capacity, and the ERP software’s extensible configure-to-order capabilities made it a must-have for the conveyor belt manufacturer.
And it’s precisely in this regard that the Integrated Netfinity Server proves to be a significant value-add for the AS/400, says Black Oak Computer Services’ Livesay. "Manage2000 running on the IPCS is a system-justifying application for the AS/400," he maintains. "Clients will buy an AS/400 and the IPCS server just to run Manage2000. This is a serious competitor: an NT application running on an IBM midrange, and that’s a reason to buy the AS/400."