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EDS this week announced the formation of the Agility Alliance which aims to improve procurement relationships for the firm to improve customer service.

Cisco, Dell, EMC, Microsoft, Sun and Xerox are all initial members of the alliance. They will co-operate on everything from R&D to working together on customer projects.

Sam Kingston, MD of UK commercial business at EDS, told The Register: "In the past we formed opportunistic relationships but collaborations must be more deep-seated and long-term than that, we don't need to create a common culture but we need greater dialogue and more interaction."

He admitted there was a gap that still needed to be filled: "We have good network skills from Cisco, good infrastructure companies and Microsoft for applications. What is missing is a business process specialist. We expect to announce further partners before the end of the year or very early next year." He said it would not necessarily be an offshore company.

Phil Codling, senior analyst at Ovum, said: "It's not about reducing R&D spending; it's about collaboration. The likes of HP and IBM are seen by some customers as favouring in-house technology. EDS, while not now neutral, is seen as less biased."

Codling said we may see similar moves from Accenture, ATOSOrigin, CapGemini and CSC: "The ability to manage the relationship is key in an environment of competition. EDS wants to make committments of resources to strengthen those relationships."

The Alliance is setting up three development centres - two in the US and one in the UK. A total of 1,000 staff will be seconded from member companies to the centres. EDS is currently looking for premises in the UK. The centres will start to identify market opportunities and develop services to match them. ®

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