Through the agreement, the global consumer products company said it hopes to establish a solid, scalable and reliable foundation for its IT infrastructure development in the coming years.
Ed Toben, Colgate-Palmolive's chief information officer, said IBM was selected as a result of its "robust technology roadmap". He said IBM would be supporting the company's future expansion of its SAP system.
Colgate-Palmolive began a global implementation of SAP R/3 applications several years ago, and now has between 8,000 and 9,000 SAP users in 51 countries. The migration to IBM hardware began in November 2001.
According to Toben, Colgate-Palmolive has seen a 40% performance improvement, with better system response times and report generation.
The migration involves IBM pSeries servers, TotalStorage Enterprise Storage products, desktop and notebook PCs, as well as Tivoli systems management software.
The servers supporting Colgate-Palmolive's SAP platform are housed in a US data centre and in a back-up site. Colgate-Palmolive expects to finish the hardware switch between the end of this year and the beginning of 2003.
Most of the servers will run IBM's AIX flavour of the Unix operating system, but some will run Microsoft Windows. On the storage side, Colgate-Palmolive plans to create storage area networks. IBM hardware will also support the company's data warehouse, which is expected to grow to 50 terabytes of data.
Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group, said the deal could be a reflection of a more aggressive approach on the part of IBM's sales team instilled by its new chief executive officer, Sam Palmisano.
Because Colgate-Palmolive is such a high-visibility account in the IT world, especially among SAP users, the deal could also help sway other big companies toward IBM hardware products, Enderle said. "Whenever a keystone account makes a move like this one, you almost always anticipate that other firms will follow the example."