Apple eyes integrators in new federal push

Apple Computer Inc. is embarking on a federal push with a retooled federal organization plans to expand ties with systems integrators and a strategy of promoting cross-platform technology.

Apple's federal operation last month completed a reorganization in which federal employees of Next Software Inc. have been moved into Apple Federal. The unified operation is organized into three groups: a hardware sales team that will focus on Power Macintoshes PowerBooks and Newtons an enterprise software group responsible for such Next products as OpenStep Enterprise and WebObjects and a professional services group chartered to help customers build solutions around Apple products.

Barry Leffew formerly director of sales for Next's federal group now heads Apple Federal as the director of sales. Apple Federal he said will work more with integrators and be "much more focused on open solutions."

"We see partnerships with systems integrators as key to building solutions around the Macintosh " Leffew said. He said Apple Federal will look to forge new integrator alliances as it expands relationships with such companies as Computer Sciences Corp. Electronic Data Systems Corp. Government Technology Services Inc. Hughes and TRW Inc.

Payton Smith a research analyst at IDC Government said courting integrators could help Apple Federal provide software which he termed a "historical weakness" for the company.

As for cross-platform solutions Apple Federal is marketing WebObjects a tool for building Web sites that tie into legacy databases and systems. The product runs on Apple's Mac OS Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95 and Windows NT. Leffew said he has seen "tremendous" interest in WebObjects.

In other product developments Leffew said government buyers are moving toward higher-end Power Mac desktop systems and PowerBook notebooks.

And Apple's latest product release Mac OS 8 could further inspire the adoption of higher-performance machines Leffew said. The operating system will run only on Apple products and clones operating Motorola Corp.'s 68040 chip or the PowerPC chip.

"We think the combination of the price/performance of the PowerPC and the ease-of-use for Mac OS 8 is a compelling reason for customers to move to a Power Mac platform " Leffew said.

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