IBM serves up I-Commerce

IBM used this week's Internet World conference here as a forum for unveiling a set of software and services designed to help customers develop and maintain efficient commerce Web sites.

IBM announced the Commerce Integrator, software for integrating Internet-commerce sites with back-end systems and data.

An add-on for IBM's Net.Commerce, the Commerce Integrator is based on the company's MQSeries product and offers support for 35 enterprise systems out of the box.

According to Karl Salnoske, general manager of electronic commerce at IBM, the Commerce Integrator includes a GUI that lets users create a set of business rules that dictate how commerce orders are handled.

"It allows for communication between the Web server and back-end systems so that each individual order gets routed to the appropriate fulfillment system," Salnoske said.

Additionally, the product requires no programming or coding, which IBM executives said could result in a 25 percent to 50 percent cost savings on development for customers.

Salnoske said the future of the product "will offer not only integration with a company's own internal systems, but with those of their suppliers and partners." That future version of the product will feature support for Extensible Markup Language and for other data exchange standards, including RosettaNet and Open Buying on the Internet.

In addition to the Commerce Integrator, IBM also announced a set of consulting services for customers trying to develop or improve commerce sites.

IBM demonstrated at the show its new electronic-business Accelerator, an online consulting service that will offer information, advice, and personalized assessments. This service will go live this July and will cost subscribers $300 per year. Information about the site and some preliminary "free advice" is at

The company also introduced another consulting service called Return on Web Investment.

"Calculating return on investment [ROI] is not as easy in this new Web environment as it used to be," said Neil Isford, vice president of e-commerce for IBM Global Services. This service helps corporations make more educated decisions about implementing a commerce strategy by providing in-depth ROI analysis, according to the company. Available now, pricing for Return on Web Investment depends on the size of the company.

IBM also announced another series of consulting services that include E-business Performance Management, offering assessments and performance predictions for companies already deploying commerce sites; High Availability Services for E-business, for identifying and eliminating weak links; and the Testing Service for E-business, a full end-to-end stress test of everything from network hardware to applications for companies who are about to go live with a new commerce site.

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