Microsoft, KPMG to link companies to exchanges

Microsoft and KPMG Consulting last week teamed up to form Dot.Ramp, a combination of software and services to help businesses connect to business-to-business digital marketplaces.

The marketplace exchange system will be based on Microsoft's newly announced .NET strategy, which aims to make the Redmond, Wash.-based company's software available as services on a variety of devices, from PCs to cell phones, via the Internet. Microsoft's .NET relies heavily on XML and BizTalk Server, which was released in beta earlier this month and is expected to ship before the end of this year.

New York-based KPMG will provide systems integration work and consulting services via the new Microsoft Dot.Com Practice unit, and will hire some 500 consultants during the next year for the project.

"What we're doing is building a set of BizTalk Server templates" geared toward answer pricing and packaging concerns in those industries' digital exchanges, said Rebecca Kaske, director of supply-chain initiatives at Microsoft. "We're trying to solve the problem of how buyers and suppliers participate at a low cost in the digital marketplace phenomenon."

Dot.Ramp will initially focus on five vertical markets: aerospace, chemical, energy, automotive, and industrial products. Dot.Ramp will support software from SAP AG, Commerce One, J.D. Edwards & Co., Ariba, Oracle, and Seibel Systems.

One early adopter, Honeywell, already is using Microsoft's Windows DNA (Distributed interNet Applications architecture) platform for several of its e-business portals, according to Microsoft.

Earlier this year, Microsoft and KPMG collaborated on the e-commerce services and consulting package called the Microsoft Dot.Com Practice, which initially centered on the then-new Windows 2000 offering from Microsoft.

Microsoft has not settled on a pricing scheme. "We have already defined the template information, so now we have to go to these industries and tell them what we're going to do," Kaske said. "What we're finalising now is the best vehicle to package it from a pricing perspective. We should have that nailed down pretty soon."

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