Corel, Beyond.com ink DOD deal

The Defense Department last week awarded a $30 million blanket purchase agreement to Beyond.com for licensing, delivery and support of software from Corel Corp. in the first DOD-wide contract for both companies.

The contract, negotiated by the Navy as part of the DOD Enterprise Software Initiative, includes Corel's WordPerfect, Office and Legal suites, CorelDraw, and Corel Ventura. These products will be available to DOD personnel around the world, distributed by

Beyond.com's Enterprise Download Manager (EDM) technology, which delivers the software directly to a user's desktop across the Internet.

The contract is a significant win for Corel, because DOD historically has been a strong user of Microsoft Corp.'s products, Corel officials said.

"We're strong in the civilian market, but we haven't been as strong in the defense market," said Georges Sabongui, vice president of North American corporate and government sales at Corel. "This gets out the message that there is a demand for our product, especially since it is an enterprise deal, not individual bases or people."

DOD decided to award the contract for Corel's products as part of the department's goal of giving its employees a range of products to choose from, according to Floyd Groce, a member of the Enterprise Software Initiative team.

"We want to offer DOD employees choice," he said. "Additionally, the DOD has an existing installed base of Corel products."

DOD has long been a big user of CorelDraw, but it never has been a standardized, enterprise arrangement, Sabongui said. This contract standardizes not only DOD's use of that product but also of most of Corel's offerings, he said.

This contract will not shake the market, but it is a strong sign that Corel's recent marketing efforts are moving the company in the right direction, analysts said.

"I think it's a vote of confidence," said Mary Wardley, director of the personal applications program at International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass.

"When a market is so slanted to a given vendor, it is so easy to write off competitors," she said. "But this underlines that there still is some competition."

Beyond.com's EDM technology also was a selling point for the contract, according to Kendall Fargo, vice president of government sales for the company.

Beyond.com will distribute the software to military organizations around the world, and DOD administrators also will be able to track exactly where the software is sent and used through the EDM technology.

"They chose Beyond knowing that there's going to be lots of users in many different segments...and they want the ability to track all of that information," Fargo said.

"Electronic software distribution was a desired, although not mandatory, capability that was considered during the evaluation," Groce said. "Beyond.com's implementation of electronic software distribution through its Electronic Download Manager software provides an additional method for DOD customers to obtain easy access to licensed commercial software."

The use of electronic software delivery is a growing trend in the government and commercial markets, and Corel is making a big move by partnering itself with Beyond.com, Wardley said.

"Licensing of software electronically is becoming very important...it's an asset that needs to be managed," she said. "Value-add is something that Corel is learning about...[offerings like software management] go a long way because it can cost you a ton of money."

The electronic software delivery provides a significant cost savings, added to the discounts the contract is bringing to DOD beyond the low price from the General Services Administration schedule on which the BPA is based, Fargo said.

Beyond.com has long served customers around the world with its EDM technology, but DOD also held several discussions about the multilingual offerings Corel brings to the deal, Sabongui and Fargo said.

All the Corel products and the company's support staff are accessible in several languages, features that DOD negotiators made clear are important for military installations with international staffs, they said.

This is one of the areas in which Corel has been able to stay ahead of Microsoft, Wardley said.

Microsoft added multilingual versions to its office products only in its recent Office 2000 release, she said.

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