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Lawson leads Aussie ERP firm to iSeries

RycoCouple A longtime HP 3000 customer headquartered in Australia is heading away from their HP 3000 ERP suite, taking a trip down the midrange lane to IBM's iSeries. The 3000 customer that's been in business since 1946 says they're looking for better technology to handle business growth.

RYCO Hydraulics, with operations in North and South America, Europe and Asia as well as Australia, will be moving to a Lawson Software ERP solution to replace its HP 3000 applications. The company will be serviced by Lawson along with IBM Partner Synergy Plus. The Lawson suite which will be installed during 2009 is QuickStep, software billed as easier to deploy than traditional ERP replacements used by manufacturing firms.

ERP has long been a core sector for the 3000 community, but the iSeries-AS/400 world counts tens of thousands of customers in manufacturing, too. Infor, which now owns the customer base and software rights to the MANMAN app for ERP, built its core business on the AS/400 marketplace. Even though the future of the iSeries looks sketchy to some veterans in that community, Lawson's suite operates in other environments as well. Cross-platform migrations -- where the initial deployment can be moved to another platform later with minimal fees and retooling -- are becoming a common strategy for 3000 sites looking for a change.

Australia has lost other HP 3000 customers over the past year or so. ING Software migrated its in-house apps to HP-UX servers using Speedware's migration services, citing a lack of HP lab support for patching its MPE/iX apps. Other companies Down Under point to a dearth of used systems and parts for their 3000s.

The QuickStep solution that's replacing 3000 software at RYCO is a recent addition to the Lawson product line, as well as an application that runs on platforms other that what IBM now calls the Series i. Lawson promotes QuickStep as an implementation of M3, formerly Intentia's Movex ERP suite, that starts to deliver in weeks instead of the usual ERP transition timeline of months. QuickStep is a "pre-configured" version of M3. Lawson calls the suite a low-risk solution.

"These are prototypes that can speed software implementation by pre-configuring 70-90 percent of specific processes within the applications," Lawson's QuickStep summary says. Lawson reported in a press release that it won RYCO's business by having a deeper understanding of the hydraulics firm's business sector than competing ERP suppliers.

But both Lawson and Synergy Plus also deploy their solutions on IBM systems other than the i -- notably the Series x for Linux, and Series p for IBM's Unix. According to the AS/400 news site IT Jungle, Lawson is retrenching this year, in part by acquiring the M3 suite that's more popular with Series i customers and those outside of the US.

Lawson is a major player in this IBM midrange market for integrated systems, whether those computers are called AS/400s, iSeries or Series i. It hosted an annual conference this year whose musical headliner was Don Felder, one of the founding members of The Eagles. While it's hard to imagine Lawson staying competitive with ERP vendors like SAP and Oracle without Series i growth, the vendor is positioned to transition its customers from any platform with slowing sales -- in the same way that it's moving RYCO off the HP 3000 in the months to come.