Esolutions "virtual JV" opens for business

At a media launch heavy with e-speak, Telecom, Microsoft and EDS yesterday unveiled their new esolutions 'virtual alliance' - and faced a string of questions about its unusual structure.

At a media launch heavy with e-speak, Telecom, Microsoft and EDS yesterday unveiled their new esolutions "virtual alliance".

The presentation was kicked off with a video featuring the respective chairmen of the three partners - Roderick Deane, Bill Gates, and Dick Brown. Gates, clad in his trademark woolly jersey, described the venture as "a model for the kind of innovation that will lead to business success on the Internet."

Microsoft New Zealand general manager Geoff Lawrie used the event to announce that esolutions would run one of only a dozen pilots worldwide offering leased access to Office 2000 applications under an application service provider (ASP) model. ASB Bank and esolutions itself will be first to employ the new software model.

Lawrie said Microsoft's role in the venture would be to provide products to support all aspects of e-commerce: "Our role and contribution is based on our software platforms."

Esolutions general manager Jane Freeman was keen to emphasise that esolutions products and services would be non-exclusive, and that customers could decide whether they wanted to work with all the partners or to use third parties for some elements of solutions.

The panel of executives at the launch fielded a string of questions about the unusual structure of the venture - which doesn't exist as a legal entity. Freeman said that esolutions' sales channels would be either of the three partners or its own Website. Legal contracts signed by customers would be with either Telecom or EDS.

But, Freeman said, "the actual ownership is confidential". Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung chipped in to note that esolutions is "not a separate legal entity" but a "virtual joint venture."

Lawrie characterised the venture as "an innovations forum … an R&D shop" and said Microsoft would be establishing direct links between esolutions and its research centres, so New Zealand business could benefit from the company's work on broadband, wireledss and streaming media technologies.

Freeman confirmed that the virtual JV would have its own set of "virtual accounts" that would return revenue to its partners, but declined to comment on what revenues were being projected.

Esolutions product and service suites announced today fall under four main headings.

Assured Communications

A range of products for a "safe and secure" network environment. The New Zealand Health Information Service intranet is being touted as a reference project.

Presentation, Production and Support

The trial of the ASP version of Office 2000 is the first project under this category.

Trading Solutions

A business exchange for Air New Zealand, allowing it to reach further into the corporate travel procurement market, is aqlready underway.

Professional Solutions

Strategic and network consulting.

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