Wang, Microsoft extend partnership

Wang Global and Microsoft Corp. have greatly expanded a 3-year-old partnership to cover an array of desktop solutions and to provide much-needed Microsoft-certified engineers and solutions developers.

Wang and Microsoft first formed an alliance in 1995 to focus on imaging and workflow (which Wang no longer works with) and on server-based Microsoft Exchange messaging technology. Under the new agreement, Wang has pledged to train 2,500 Microsoft specialists to cover a variety of Microsoft's desktop technology.

Of that group, several hundred will probably end up working for Wang Government Services, according to its president, James Hogan. He expects the influx will help to "more than double revenues in the Microsoft solutions space" during the next two to three years. Wang's federal operation currently generates some $400 million in revenues, a "good chunk" of which involves Microsoft technology, Hogan said.

Wang Global and Microsoft plan to focus on five major areas, including migration to 32-bit Microsoft desktop technologies; networking, messaging and intranet infrastructure; Internet and electronic commerce applications; networked services; and vertical applications. Wang will also open two centers of excellence to showcase applications and set up technology integration labs to design and test solutions.

Faster Deployment

The alliance will lead to faster deployment of desktop solutions, said Thomas Ebert, federal business development executive for the Microsoft Federal District. Less than 50 percent of the Exchange e-mail software seats Microsoft has sold in the federal market in the last 12 months are up and running, he said. The relationship will leverage this ratio of "skinning" vs. "hunting"— that is, purchase and deployment. The federal market accounts for some 55 percent of Microsoft's Exchange sales in North America, the company said.

"There's a tremendous shortage in Microsoft-certified engineers," agreed Ed Brasseur, the chief information officer for the Army Materiel Command (AMC).

He hopes to see the partnership result in additional benefits in such areas as information systems security, where Wang traditionally has been a strong player. He also is counting on Wang to continue multiple-vendor support for the Army and other federal users, with applications built around non-Microsoft technologies, such as Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes.

AMC is a major Microsoft customer, currently negotiating with the company "for use of its products commandwide," Brasseur said. At the same time, however, several of AMC's subordinate commands use Lotus technologies.

"There are big investments that can't be thrown down the drain," he said.

In Northern Virginia, an area "dominated by federal requirements," there are 20,000 information technology job openings, said Tom Hewitt, chief executive officer of Federal Sources Inc. "The need is in certifications with software and the desktop." Wang's move thus "hits a bull's eye."

Two major upcoming opportunities include the Outsourcing Desktop Initiative NASA and the General Services Administration's Seat Management procurement.

Differentiating Partnerships

The Wang relationship is the latest of several Microsoft information services partnerships that have been announced in recent months. Unisys and Digital Equipment Corp. have also announced the intent to train 2,000 and 3,000 Microsoft specialists, respectively, Ebert said.

Although there will be competition in the federal market among Wang and Microsoft's other partners, Ebert made some distinctions. Unisys is concentrating more on the BackOffice database/NT server side of things, while Digital has been focused on messaging, although it is expanding to database technology and the Internet desktop, he said. Wang, by contrast, is focusing, at least in part, on the 32-bit desktop Windows NT workstation, Windows 95 and desktop applications, Ebert said.

"The federal government has a lot of requirements related to the desktop," Hewitt said. What Wang is doing "relates to government requirements and the national problem of work force shortages."

-- Adams is a free-lance writer based in Alexandria, Va. She can be reached at cadams@nmaa.org.

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