J.D. Edwards, PASE Bring Supply Chain Suite to AS/400

In conjunction with the release of IBM’s Portable Application Solutions Environment (PASE) at last month’s PartnerWorld 2000, J.D. Edwards (Denver) set the pace for other software vendors looking to take advantage of the new porting capability, announcing it will begin offering its Unix-based Active Supply Chain product suite for AS/400.

PASE, a new technology from IBM, is designed to give ISVs the opportunity to expand their presence in the AS/400 market by providing the capability to run Unix applications on an AS/400 platform.

“PASE really increases our ability to bring these applications to the AS/400 much more quickly,” says Ed Sitarsky, J.D. Edwards VP of supply chain planning.

J.D. Edwards Active Supply Chain suite is a solution covering both supply-chain planning and execution. And, with the company’s recent acquisition of application development company Numetrix (Toronto), J.D. Edwards is able to offer this comprehensive solution, which assists with both creating and carrying out a supply-chain strategy.

When implemented together, the two supply-chain management components ideally will have a cyclical relationship whereby a manufacturing, distribution, sales and customer service plan is developed and executed by the same application, which then collects information and suggests changes to the plan based on its success or failure. According to John Lyons, senior marketing manager for J.D. Edwards, achieving that integration has been difficult because it requires an ISV to have core competency in developing both execution and planning tools. But it has also been highly sought after by software providers, because running the two components together proves far more efficient and cost effective than running them as two separate applications.

“Integrated planning and execution is really the Holy Grail that everyone is trying to get. It’s really a one-plus-one-equals-three situation,” Lyons says.

Until now, the “compute-intensive” nature of Active Supply Chain suite made Unix a more practical runtime environment for the product, Lyons says. With the introduction of PASE, however, it is not only possible to run Active Supply Chain on AS/400, it may even be more desirable.

“Now with the AS/400 portable environment it’s possible to provide integrated planning and execution on a single server,” Lyons explains. “In Unix it would be a machine-to-machine data flow and therefore more likely batch-oriented. … And what we’re moving toward at J.D. Edwards is real-time or up-to-real-time integration. That’s probably a little easier on a single server.”

Ian Jarman, IBM worldwide product marketing manager for AS/400, says IBM chose to link the PASE announcement with the J.D. Edwards Active Supply Chain for AS/400 release hoping to show PASE as a proven technology already integrated with a business partner solution. In addition, he adds, J.D. Edwards’ product represents an ideal example of the function IBM intends for PASE to serve.

“We’re not looking to be able to bring all Unix applications to the AS/400, let’s be clear about that. What we want to do is extend from our core business applications to include other applications that complement our solutions—like supply chain management, like business intelligence, like e-commerce, like customer relationship management,” Jarman says. “J.D. Edwards Active Supply Chain Suite happens to be an extraordinary example of an integrated application we were able to employ through PASE.”

Jarman says PASE is part of a long-term strategy to demonstrate AS/400’s ability to evolve and adapt by making it compatible with other applications—as IBM has shown thus far with Java, Domino and Windows NT. The hope is that by expanding application options, AS/400’s appeal will reach a broader customer base. In the meantime, Jarman says, it is important to maintain AS/400’s trademark reliability and manageability that have kept the existing customer base on board.

“Customers are interested in solutions, they’re not interested in technology,” he says. With that in mind, the ported Unix applications are “AS/400 on the outside, to our users. That’s important because our customers see AS/400 as an alternative to the complexity of Unix. [ISVs] are very comfortable that they have the same capability they would have in a Unix runtime, so they’re happy, but at the same time we’ve kept Unix away from our customers.”

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