Eastman taps fed reseller

Vredenburg, an integrator that has specialized in automating document declassification and processing Freedom of Information Act requests, will become the primary reseller and provider of product support for Eastman Software Inc.'s federal customers.

The deal, announced May 25, covers Eastman's high-end imaging, workflow and Computer Output to Laser Disc products, which have more than 30,000 federal users. For Eastman, the agreement completes a two-and-a-half-year plan to turn marketing and support of these products over to partners. Reston, Va.-based Vredenburg said the arrangement will allow its Information Technology Group (VITGroup) to expand its reach as a supplier of document management and workflow solutions.

"What we have tried to do is become a solutions provider," said Larry Den, vice president of VITGroup. "This is a very logical addition [and it] fits exactly into our business model." Because Eastman's products are not application-specific, they can be deployed in any situation where data capture, workflow or information storage is required. Vredenburg can integrate them with, and expand the reach of, its existing applications, Den said.

Gerry Sutton, president of Eastman, said his company will now focus its efforts on product development.

"Increasingly, the value-add for buyers is not in the technology but the application of the technology," said Tom Davies, senior vice president with market research firm Federal Sources Inc. "That takes a company like Vredenburg that has the application knowledge and the project management skills."

However, Nathaniel Palmer, senior consultant with The Delphi Group, Boston, questioned what the deal means for the future of Eastman's product line. "I think it's an indicator that Eastman doesn't have a solid strategy for where they're going with the work management product lines," Palmer said, adding that it is getting harder for vendors that provide "a horizontal solution" to survive in the marketplace.

Palmer noted that earlier this year, Eastman licensed the rights to the source code for its software to Unisys Corp., which had been selling its own version of the products under the name InfoImage. "Unisys would be promoting that in the federal market," he said.

Sutton said Eastman continues to develop its software and that Unisys does not "have the organization that built the product." Moreover, he said, although the two companies do compete with each other, it was mainly Eastman that marketed the software to federal customers.

Unisys executives could not be reached for comment. Unisys' World Wide Web site lists the Federal Aviation Administration as one InfoImage customer, along with many state governments.

The deal with VITGroup does not cover Eastman's line of shrink-wrapped workflow, imaging and document management products that were designed to be used with Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange groupware platform, although Sutton said VITGroup would sell these products as well "from time to time."

Users of the Exchange-based products do not require the integration services that VITGroup will provide with the higher-end software, he said.

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