Requests from customers for point solutions and more feature-rich e-mail applications prompted EDS to sign a co-development deal last week with messaging ASP Mi8.
EDS initially plans to offer its customers Mi8's hosted Microsoft Exchange solutions. The two companies said they are also developing new features for the Exchange service that will address business processes such as accounts receivable, human resources and expense reports.
"E-mail is the enabler," said Laurel McElreath, service line director for messaging and collaboration at EDS, based here. "It has truly become mission-critical, and customers want to use it for more than just sharing information," she said.
EDS said it plans to expand on Mi8's existing messaging platform to offer eRoom, a virtual team environment for project and proposal development, and also is looking to use Mi8's platform to offer Lotus Notes.
EDS expects to introduce other point solutions aside from messaging as customers' requests for applications that can be deployed quickly and at a lower cost continue to increase, McElreath said.
Mi8's hosting platform features built-in billing, provisioning and monitoring, which makes it easy for EDS to add just about any hosted application, said Dave Castellani, CEO of New York-based Mi8.
"I'm quite certain that [EDS Chairman and CEO Dick Brown knows what EDS' core competencies are, so if an ASP solution is already built and having that [solution is now a requirement, why not partner?" Castellani said.
"We will continue our focus on Exchange, but there are many areas EDS is looking at," he added.
McElreath said EDS plans to introduce ASP offerings in other application areas such as ERP, although she would not disclose details.
The deal with Mi8 marks EDS' first ASP partnership but not its first foray into the ASP realm. The company has been offering outsourced data and infrastructure services to its customers for several years.