IPlanet eyes e-business platform market

Recognising the importance of application integration in the e-commerce world, iPlanet last week launched its Internet Service Deployment Platform, giving service providers and enterprises a pre-integrated software base on which to build their e-business.

Because speed of deployment continues to be a top priority for businesses setting up or moving to the Internet, the idea of combining various Web-based technologies into a single e-business platform is growing in popularity. Officials at iPlanet foresee a $US100 billion market by 2010 that is based on the number and size of companies doing business online and the amount spent on e-business-platform software.

Companies such as Oracle, BEA Systems, and IBM, all of which have the resources to create their own e-business platforms, are also eyeing the market space, and iPlanet anticipates the challenge.

"This is going to be a battle of the heavyweights," said Marge Breya, chief marketing officer at iPlanet. "Since we've got a situation now where it's pretty clear there's not going to be a company on the face of the planet that isn't going to do business over the Net, it's even more clear that this type of platform is emerging."

The Internet Service Deployment Platform from iPlanet consists of four service layers: Portal Services, Communication Services, Web Application Integration Services, and Unified User Management Services that rest atop a company's systems and network infrastructure.

These layers are made up of integrated iPlanet technology and third-party products. For example, the Communication Services layer includes iPlanet Calendar and Messaging Servers, some collaboration products, and the forthcoming iPlanet Instant Messaging Server, expected to be included later this year. Other applications, such as online marketplace applications, would sit on top of the platform.

E-business platforms benefit companies by helping them set up Web-based applications such as e-mail and behind-the-scenes Web site services in one fell swoop rather than deploying the software piece by piece, thereby saving precious time, Breya said.

"We're working to make sure people aren't spending money on using their IT or professional services organisations to integrate pieces that we can do for them," Breya explained. "We're not saying that we have the end-to-end, full-up solution; we're working with partners on every layer. "The iPlanet platform also supports Internet standards such as Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), XML, and LDAP in an effort to remain system-agnostic.

"Relative to Oracle, iPlanet wants to be seen as completely agnostic with respect to platform and even applications, so that would position it as truly cross-platform, cross-API, working with everybody," said Tony Picardi, senior vice president of global software at IDC. "[iPlanet] is going to be an integration hub, and one of their strategies will be pulling together industry partners."

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