IBM rounds out WebSphere for online marketplaces

Looking to establish its WebSphere application server platform as standard building material for online exchanges and marketplaces, IBM yesterday unveiled a new edition of WebSphere Commerce Suite, a bundle designed to help businesses quickly set up shop and handle high transaction volumes.

The Marketplace Edition includes the core e-commerce functions of WebSphere Commerce Suite coupled with catalogue aggregation, RFP (request for proposals), RFQ (request for quotes), auction, contract, community, administration, and reporting and other requisite marketplace features, according to product manager Ruviano Martinez.

Now in limited release, the Marketplace Edition is slated for third quarter delivery.

The bundle supports wireless and mobile devices through the WAP (wireless application protocol) and includes MQ Series messaging and workflow capabilities, as well as hooks to business intelligence systems, according to IBM officials.

IBM has lined up partnerships for bill presentment, online credit applications, and other functions necessary in maintaining online exchnages and marketplaces.

IBM Global Services, along with partners Xerox Connect and Ernst & Young, will provide professional services in support of the offering, according to the officials.

Citing Gartner predictions that the online marketplace sector will mushroom to 10,000 players and handle $438 billion in business-to-business transactions by 2002, IBM officials touted the breadth of the company's products, services, and partnerships aimed at this fast-growing market segment.

While IBM has strategic alliances with Ariba and i2 Technologies for end-to-end marketplace configurations that include procurement and supply chain functions, the WebSphere Marketplace Edition doesn't overlap with such implementations, according to Ed Kilroy, IBM's general manager of e-commerce.

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