First announced at the i2 Planet conference in Phoenix last week, the solution will fulfill the SCM (supply chain management) component of the PPI (Peak Performance Initiative) unveiled by Microsoft in March, Celestine Vettical, worldwide director of manufacturing vertical solutions at Microsoft Corp., said in an interview with CIOInsight.com.
According to Vettical, the technology being co-developed with i2 will make it easier for customers to collaborateboth internally and with outside trading partnersby synchronizing information stored in various repositories, including the four ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems currently being produced by Microsoft.
"We'll initially focus the supply-chain solutions on customers in the high-tech, automotive and industrial markets," Vettical told CIOInsight.com. "Then we'll move on to retail and other areas."
i2's SCM technology already runs on Windows platforms, and i2 is already using Microsoft Excel as a user interface to its SCM applications, Baxter Nairon, senior vice president of solutions operations at i2 Technologies Inc., said in the same interview.
"Many of our customers are business analysts and planners who are very heavy-duty users of Excel, anyway," Nairon said.
But under the deal unveiled last week, the two companies intend to provide much deeper hooks from i2 into the Microsoft environment, including the 32- and 64-bit editions of SQL Server and Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server, as well as Windows Server.
Excel now will be used as the front end for development, too, enabling access between i2 applications and the Microsoft .NET development environment, in addition to the Microsoft Office System.
The first i2 solutions slated for development in these Microsoft environments include i2's MDM (Master Data Management) synchronization technology and DM (Demand Management) application.
"We've already begun teaming with some of our key partners on 'solution shaping,'" Vettical told CIOInsight.com. "We're building scenarios and product demos."
Microsoft also will be signing "certain lighthouse customers for an early release program," he added.
The sales event at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, to be held in Minneapolis in July, will kick off a larger field-enablement program for the joint SCM solution, Vettical said.
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