FRAMINGHAM (03/31/2000) - Ironside Technologies Inc. in Pleasanton, California, today announced software and services designed to offer suppliers plug-and-play, real-time data integration with multiple online exchanges. The Ironside Network is significant because it gives suppliers a way to quickly enter and exit online marketplaces without creating separate back-end links to each exchange.
Ironside provides basic plumbing, via the XML content-tagging language, that lets suppliers upload real-time data from their enterprise systems to various online exchanges - regardless of the commerce protocols used by a particular exchange or the enterprise software at the user company.
The Ironside Network initially will support exchanges using XML-based protocols from Mountain View, California-based Ariba Inc. and Walnut Creek, California-based Commerce One Inc. It will eventually also support exchanges running on software from Moai Technologies Inc., Intellisys Electronic Commerce LLC and RightWorks Corp.
"Ironside provides a very convenient on-ramp for suppliers," said Albert Pang, an analyst at International Data Corp. (IDC) in Framingham, Massachusetts.
This is especially important for suppliers such as Weidmuller Inc. in Richmond, Virginia, which sells to customers across several industries.
"We deal with electrical distribution and electronic distribution. The two businesses are entirely different, so we'll be on more than one exchange," said Frederik Wenzel, chief financial officer at Weidmuller.
Rick Holden, president of J.L. Hammett Co., a $200 million school supplies company in Braintree, Massachusetts, said he also expects to be trading on more than one online exchange.
But Holden said he can know for sure which exchanges yield the greatest benefit only by actually trading on them. As a result, "I need the ability to plug in and unplug quickly," Holden said.
The Ironside Network is free for any supplier running the company's Ironworks 4.0 product suite. Other suppliers can link into the network for a setup fee of $25,000. After connecting, all users pay a monthly fee of $500 plus $1 per transaction. Ironside said the typical implementation time is 20 days to integrate any manufacturer, distributor or other supplier into the Ironside Network, giving a company access to an unlimited number of online exchanges.
Pang pegged the current number of online exchanges at about 350. By next year, however, IDC forecasts that that number will grow to more than 2,000.
According to Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, companies that use exchanges now trade about $19 million in goods and services on one to two online exchanges. But by the end of next year, the average company will trade about $49 million in goods over four exchanges, Forrester says.