Hewlett-Packard will announce next month the key piece of software technology behind its e-services strategy - middleware that dynamically links users, Internet based applications and ecommerce sites via 'Internet services'.
VNU Newswire has been given exclusive details of Fremont, the software HP has developed in its labs to provide an open, platform independent way of dynamically creating and connecting just about any service imaginable via the Internet, without necessarily requiring user intervention.
Greg Kleiman, marketing manager for Fremont technology, described Fremont as, "an open, secure Internet services environment."
Fremont sits above the operating system level to act as a 'mediator' with Internet services. It can use all existing technologies, including Java, XML, Corba, COM, Ldap, http and public key infrastructure software, to create these Internet services or link dynamically to them.
A simple example might be where a user tries to access their email via a mobile phone. Fremont uses services to carry out security, billing and connectivity, perhaps even sending an agent over the Internet to find a third party service to read out the email to the user. The phone user would not see any of this, only that they have immediate access to email from any device.
Rajiv Gupta, open services manager at HP, claimed that in the future, when a company wanted to add a new service to its Internet site, Fremont would enable it to just send an agent out to find the required service from a third party. Equally, developers would be free to create applications using Fremont's software development kit that would run on any platform.
"Fremont means you can create new Internet businesses on the fly?unlike businesses such as Amazon that have cobbled together systems over time," he said, adding that this would level the playing field for small companies to start Internet businesses without major investment in time and infrastructure.
HP would not say whether there were any financial requirements for people to use and develop applications for the Fremont platform, but Kleiman insisted that the company wanted it to be, "freely and widely available."
Where HP will make the money, said Gupta, would be from the 'component services' that would work off the Fremont platform. These include applications such as management, storage, billing, security and workflow that work behind the scenes of the services being used.
HP has been clear over the past month that its new strategy is look for opportunities to make revenue based on transaction fees rather than system sales.
Initial application areas HP will invest in are likely to be ecommerce services, health monitoring, procurement management and travel booking, but HP said other companies will soon develop a myriad of components and services to provide all sorts of services online.
The first major markets for Fremont will be ISPs and telcos. Both sectors are keen to sell value added services on top of their existing infrastructure.
In mid May HP will release the full details plus a host of partner ISPs, telcos, ISVs and customers.
Jane Doorly, vice president at Gartner Group, predicts that by 2003 ebrokers and content aggregators will be the primary Internet channel for users, while by 2008, 25 per cent of consumer spending and 70 per cent of business to business commerce will be Web involved.
"We are approaching a new era of smart phones and smart cars?requiring a complete change in business dynamics?not just services but services anywhere," she explained.
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