12 June 2002
Baan rolls out 3rd major upgrade this year
Boston, Mass. - Swimming upstream against giant SAP for industrial enterprise software customers, Baan this week rolled out significant product life cycle management (PLM) software extensions. The unveiling marked the third major addition to its Web-based iBaan suite this year.
In a meeting with press and analysts at the MESA Internationalconference in Boston, the Invensys plc unit added four major functions to its PLM software and also formed a dedicated PLM business unit.
PLM software integrates process technologies, and people, neededthroughout a product's life - from conception through all stages of improvement until the product ultimately no longer exists.
Specifically, Baan unveiled iBaan Product Data Management (PDM), whichbridges the gap between an organization's computer-aided design (CAD) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) environments; iBaan PartnerNet, which extends PDM to the extranet; iBaan Product Packager, designed to boost users' ability to securely transmit and receive product information; and iBaan Lifecycle Analyzer, a collaboration tool that integrates PDM, enterprise software and other iBaan products so users can determine the effect of changes on cost, stock, production line schedules, time-to-market and product quality.
Initial target markets are industrial machinery; aerospace and defense;support for discrete industries; high-tech, including electronics; and automobile makers, officials said. Ilana Jucha was named to head up the new Israel-based PLM business unit. Baan's PLM software originated with an Israeli company called c-Ark, which Invensys acquired and combined with Baan when it bought Baan in August 2000.
Speaking at the Boston unveiling, Laurens van der Tang, Baan president,acknowledged SAP's dominance in the enterprise space, but said the PLM additions actually extend Baan's industrial enterprise software beyond SAP's technologies. Also, "we don't have a Baan-only route," instead offering the ability for users to mix and match with competitor software components, he said.
Last January, Baan added customer relationship management (CRM) softwareand, in April, supply chain management (SCM) components to its Baan suite.
CIMdata, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based international market research firm,did an extensive product review of Baan's PLM offering. In a 24-page report, it praised the technology for being "based upon a solid architecture built on standard technologies." However, CIMdata said
improvements were needed in Baan PLM's Web-based user interface area.
Industry standards on which it's based include extensible markuplanguage (XML) and HTTP for data structure and communication. The
development team is considering other schemas for future support, including RosettaNet and simple object access protocol (SOAP). XML and SOAP are key components of Web services. --Jim Strothman
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