Enterprise applications developer Infor is hoping to encourage some of its 70,000 customers onto a new application integrator middleware platform, ION, by offering heavy discounts to programmes and starter bundles that aim to aid migration.

ION, which stands for an intelligent open network, was released in June last year and underpins Infor's core strategy going forward. It operates as an open standards middleware platform that aims to make integrating disparate Infor and third party applications easy for enterprises.

Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor, explained the importance of ION at the company's main customer conference in Denver this week.

"ION is a simplified integration platform for enterprise applications based on Extensible Markup Language (XML)," said Phillips.

"XML is basically a document standard, and the Open Applications Group has defined business transactions in it. So XML is standards based and there is a document for inventory, for customer, for invoice etc. We have adopted all of these and that's the basis for our integration standard," he added.

Phillips went on to explain that this made the middleware product, ION, "lightweight" compared to previous platforms that were available. This is because middleware previously took transactions in their native format and undertook a complicated transformation, it had to understand every application, every protocol and every format.

Whereas, with ION, companies are now able to integrate applications by simply exchanging XML documents.

However, Phillips admits that Infor only has a few hundred customers using ION at the moment and was not willing to estimate how many customers he expects to migrate to the new platform over the next few years.

President, Duncan Angove, also told customers at the event that the company would offer 'heavy discounts' to those willing to engage with Infor early on and work with it to migrate their legacy platforms to ION.

"ION is the foundation of everything we are doing in our architecture. ION is what allows you to take advantage of application to application integration," said Angove.

"Because of this we are making an offer to customers until 31 July called ION Foundation. Anyone who takes advantage of this product before this date will receive 60 percent off," he added.

Angove told Computerworld UK that Infor "wants customers to take advantage of this" and is essentially a bundle of all the core components of ION.

"Foundation provides everything you need to get going with ION, it contains the core release, the integration layer, and then all the connectors; the file connectors, database connectors and the connectors to our social offering, Pulse," said Angove.

Separate from Foundation, Info is also operating an 'ION Factory', which Angove also hopes addresses customers that are currently operating on legacy platforms.

"We recognise that some customers might not be on applications that are ION enabled; it may be an old version of an Infor application, or a third party application that you want to integrate. Because of this we have also created something called ION Factory," he said.

"This is a deeply specialised, integration competency centre, which can build very quick and very efficient ION adapters for you. The first time you use this you will have a heavily discounted consulting engagement with us," he added.

Infor also plans to use customer engagement with Factory to take the adaptors that are developed and build them into the base code of Infor products going forward.

Angove said: "This opens up the promise of ION to everyone. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this."