EDS, Microsoft, Sun Target IGS

Initial alliance members are Cisco Systems, Dell, EMC, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Xerox, EDS said last week. Enterprise application partners likely will be announced later this year and include such players as Siebel Systems, SAP and Oracle.

Competitive worries about IGS are driving some less-public alliances as well. For example, large integrators, including EDS, Accenture and Capgemini, are contributing business-process expertise and methodologies for inclusion in Microsoft's upcoming Visual Studio Team Edition toolset, several sources confirmed.

One partner said the integrators are willing to put aside their own internal rivalries to fight IGS, "the common enemy."

Microsoft, for its part, also feels a need to field a toolset that is competitive with IBM Rational's portfolio. IBM bought Rational last year, sparking worries that Rational will start favoring J2EE technology pushed by IBM over Microsoft-driven .Net technologies.

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EDS, which, like other large U.S. integrators, has lost business to lower-cost India-based competitors as well.

The alliance "is about providing a clear alternative," said Robb Rasmussen, vice president of EDS Global Alliances. It will provide a reference architecture for deploying enterprise IT and other deliverables, he said. Each member is devoting significant resources to the effort, Rasmussen said.

EMC, for example, is "embedding" 40 people at EDS. The partner companies spend a combined $13.6 billion on R&D vs. IBM's total of $3.8 billion, he said. Cisco and EDS are building a secure global network for hosting and storage, for example. An EDS development center in Plano, Texas, will employ 1,000 technologists, he said.

"This is a statement that EDS has figured out that IBM goes into accounts with an attitude, a perspective. EDS doesn't have one," said Sun CEO Scott McNealy at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo last week in Orlando, Fla. The alliance will provide a "pre-fab, pre-tested environment and will be a safer choice for customers if they don't have an opinion" about what technology to use, he said.

IBM's competitors have long said that IBM derives the lion's share of its profit from services, not technology sales. Indeed, IGS pledges vendor-neutrality in most of its business, but competitors maintain that when IGS can recommend IBM technology it will do so, at the expense of other vendors.