IBM Unseats Microsoft with Cerner Millennium Pact

In what amounts to a major coup for its Web Services push, IBM Corp. is set to announce a lucrative deal with Kansas City-based Cerner Corp. to put WebSphere and DB2 middleware on the new Cerner Millennium platform, due out this March.

Financial details of the deal were not released but Scott Hebner, director of marketing for WebSphere software said it had a potential value of “tens of millions of dollars per year.”

Beyond the dollar figures, Big Blue is showcasing the Cerner client win as a stab in the chest of rival Microsoft. Earlier this week, IBM unseated rival EDS as the primary software provider for the Ford Motor Company.

Cerner Millennium, an IT application used in more than 1,500 hospitals in the U.S., was previously built exclusively in a Microsoft environment but, when the new iteration ships in March, IBM’s eServer, storage and middleware will be the primary technology powering unified software development.

IBM executives claim Microsoft was aggressively negotiating a deal to migrate the Cerner architecture to its own Windows Server 2003 (previously .NET) but lost out of WebSphere. Microsoft could not be reached for comment at press time.

Cerner Millennium Release 2003 is an application designed for use in hospitals, doctors’ offices, laboratories, pharmacies and other health care settings. It is used as a data-coordination hub for systems like patient medical records and administrative functions such as billing.

IBM’s Hebner said the upgraded Millennium application, Cerner’s eighth and most comprehensive upgrade to date, would use WebSphere and DB2 technologies to power and seamlessly link every aspect of a hospital — from back office to the emergency room to electronic patient medical records.

“They’re moving the entire application set from a Windows environment to an open-standard platform. Cerner decided to upgrade to WebSphere server, DB2 and the WebSphere studio development environment. This is a significant win for WebSphere,” Hebner boasted.

Big Blue has targeted the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical industries as a perfect home for WebSphere and Hebner said Cerner Millennium would use WebSphere Studio Application Developer as a primary J2EE and development environment for all Cerner developers developing in Java.

The two companies plan to partner on global marketing healthcare organizations in the Americas and Europe and Asian markets.

Cerner said the new version would feature major enhancements including the computerized physician order entry (CPOE) software. That software, dubbed PowerOrders, connects the ordering, dispensing and administering of medications and would be ramped up to synchronize physician orders, pharmacy fulfillment and nurse administration.

“All of these functional and architectural enhancements will enable Cerner clients to take the paper chart out of health care, reducing medical error, reducing variance and cutting unnecessary waste,” Cerner said.