Lawson Software has announced a new version of its ERP applications that includes SOA capabilities delivered through a middleware partnership with IBM.

Lawson announced last May that it would work with IBM to develop SOA interfaces for its business applications. The announcement of Lawson Release 9 represents the culmination of that year-long effort.

The company competes with ERP vendors SAP and Oracle, both of which have also been adding SOA capabilities to their products. As well as bringing SOA capabilities to Lawson's software, the deal benefits IBM by giving it a major applications vendor committed to its SOA architecture, analysts said.

SOA is a design principle for building business applications. It allows software components to be reused as services, which proponents say reduces development work and helps make businesses more agile.

Lawson Release 9 includes improved business applications, business intelligence capabilities and business process management tools optimised for IBM's WebSphere, DB2 Universal Database and Tivoli software, the vendor said.

The product comes with IBM's WebSphere Application Server ND 6.0, Tivoli Directory Server 6.0 and DB2 Enterprise Edition 8.2, Lawson said.

The release contains enhancements to the human capital management, supply chain management and enterprise management applications.

For business intelligence, the company added a secure report "bursting" capability that aims to reduce the administrative time spent creating, dividing and distributing multiple copies of a report to staff. It also added automated workflow controls and proactive notifications to ensure more consistent and timely completion of business processes.

The new release offers upgraded process management tools for users to help manage, streamline and secure end-to-end processes, Lawson said.

Lawson said the upgrade combines several of its applications and tools under a single version number, which will help to simplify pricing, packaging, maintenance contracts for customers.