Ironside Embraces Net.Commerce, AS/400 Market

After years of developing Internet- and intranet-based order entry and management systems for distributors and manufacturers in the NT environment, Ironside Technologies Inc. makes an assertive crossover into the AS/400 market with Version 2.1 of Ironworks.

The key to Ironside’s move to the AS/400 proved to be Net.Commerce. The company’s Ironworks solution has a Java-based architecture that brings a "real-time integration to host applications that was not previously possible with Net.Commerce alone," says Kurt Smyth, VP of sales and marketing for Ironside (Toronto).

"With 2.1, Ironside enables its Ironworks product to be integrated into IBM’s Net.Commerce e-business solution," he says, adding, "Working together, Ironside and Net.Commerce can integrate the catalogue of Net.Commerce with the product database of Ironworks."

Version 2.1 essentially ports Ironside’s NT product to the AS/400. "V4R3 was really the first release of OS/400 that ran Java well enough for Ironworks," Smyth explains. Ironworks’ Java-based architecture is designed to offer AS/400 users "real-time, sub-second performance to Internet e-commerce order-entry and order-management applications."

IBM’s support of Java is expected to bring the AS/400 "to the front-office for business-critical applications like e-commerce, allowing mid-tier manufacturing and distribution companies to implement solutions that will help them achieve growth," explains Mike Odierna, IBM’s segment manager for AS/400 e-business. "Ironworks 2.1 integrated with Net.Commerce software allows companies the ability to deploy the most flexible and robust business-to-business e-commerce solutions."

Data compiled by Forrester Research Inc. (Cambridge, Mass.) lends credence to Odierna’s position and indicates additional incentive for Ironside’s activity in the AS/400 market. According to Forrester, 85 percent of medium-sized companies are expected to go online over the next couple of years, and overall spending on e-commerce software is expected to reach $4 billion by 2002.

Net.Commerce is not mandatory for Ironworks to function on an AS/400, according to Andy Siks, VP of product development for Ironside, who points out that Ironworks will work with a straight HTTP server as well. The combination of Ironworks and Net.Commerce does, however, "provide speed for getting orders into the system," he says.

Integrating a tool such as Ironworks 2.1 with Net.Commerce enables a business to build certain features into an e-business solution, including catalog support and credit card processing.