IBM yesterday made a bid to position itself at the forefront of the electronic commerce world, by introducing its plug-and-play Application Servers for electronic trading. It also released its Network Computing Framework, a set of guidelines for implementing such systems using the Web.
Big Blue claims that some 10,000 of its customers are already implementing some form of Web-based technology and that it is well placed to integrate these systems with existing products such as databases, which are necessary to create fully functional ecommerce platforms.
Tony Occleshaw, IBM?s software marketing manager, said: ?We wish to own and dominate this market. We want to equate the IBM name with the Web and the fusion of Web technology with existing technology. Lotus gives us the competencies to do that, but we?re also aiming a hit at Microsoft with this and at the Oracle/Netscape alliance.?
The Application Servers for electronic business, jointly developed by IBM and Lotus, include the Lotus Go HTTP server, which costs $795 and is due to ship imminently, and the Lotus Go Pro bundle for developers.
Lotus Go Pro incorporates Lotus? Java Bean Machine, formerly known as Applet Author, which enables users to develop Java Beans components and distribute them around the enterprise. It also comes with IBM?s DSOM object request broker, and the Fusion Web site design tools from Net Objects, a company in which IBM took a 60 per cent stake last month.
Other Application Servers include Lotus? Domino Mail, a version of Notes optimised for email and messaging, Lotus? Domino, IBM?s DB2 Universal Server object/relational database, and Transaction Server, which includes the Cics transaction processing monitor.
Each of the products can be bought separately or as a bundle on a single install CD, but will be available only from the firm?s third party channel.
The idea is that users can buy some or all of the technology required from IBM to gradually build up an ecommerce environment, but they can also integrate third party products, as desired.
As a result, IBM has also packaged up various existing product lines to help developers integrate the old with the new, and also manage the complete system.
Visual Age for e-business, Lotus Notes Designer for Domino and Lotus Go Pro, each of which include a copy of Net Objects? Fusion, will be sold under the moniker 'e-business developer tools from IBM and Lotus'.
A variety of different middleware and gateways such as the IBM Cics gateway for Java and Lotus Domino.Connect will be marketed as 'e-business Enterprise Connectors from IBM and Lotus'.
And, a meld of Tivoli systems management products and administration products such as the IBM Interactive Network Dispatcher for Web-based load balancing will be sold as 'e-business Enhancers from IBM and Lotus'.
Finally, IBM has also come out with a set of guidelines for implementing this technology. The IBM Network Computing Framework for e-business is a blueprint for how to create an ecommerce environment, the aim being ?to lift some of the fud from this stuff?.
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