IBM Ports On-Demand Modules to Net.Commerce

If IBM’s Net.Commerce is the boating shell upon which businesses advance their e-commerce initiatives, a recent collaboration with CyberSource Corp. (San Jose, Calif.) promises to add several new oars to the water.

Over the next several months IBM plans to integrate CyberSource On-Demand Commerce Applications into Net.Commerce as part of IBM’s Solutions Developer Program. This integration begins in January and will be designed in a turnkey fashion, enabling Net.Commerce to support CyberSource’s Simple Commerce Messaging Protocol (SCMP), an open messaging protocol that provides a single, flexible interface to a variety of On-Demand applications.

These modular CyberSource components include: GeoPay, for multi-currency payment processing; Identity Verification System (IVS) fraud screen, for credit card fraud protection; GlobalTax, for automatic sales and VAT tax calculation; TerritoryManager distribution and export control; Notify fulfillment messaging, for physical goods fulfillment; and SmartCert digital fulfillment, for the electronic distribution of software, pay-for-view-services and other digital goods.

"We are basically continuing along the strategy of targeted Net.Commerce solutions for specific marketplaces," says David Liederbach, director of electronic commerce marketing for IBM Software Solutions. "IBM is continuing the Net.Commerce strategies it began with Net.Commerce Start and Net.Commerce Pro."

Together, IBM and CyberSource have developed "integration code to simplify the implementation effort for our customers or our integrators," Liederbach says. "There is a set of assets that sit between CyberSource and Net.Commerce that allow the two to interoperate and reduce the integration or implementation task for deploying a Net.Commerce application with CyberSource technology."

The Net.Commerce user can now digitally download products using the components within Net.Commerce that CyberSource provides, according to Greg Quinn, VP of sales for CyberSource Corp. "If someone wants to download digital products – i.e. video, audio, software, etc. – they can do it using the components of Net.Commerce that we’ve provided."

CyberSource’s "first order of business is to release the cartridge that does the digital download," Quinn says. "We will complete the integration of all our services or applications within Net.Commerce over the next few months."

IBM’s philosophy with Net.Commerce it to provide "best of breed infrastructure for commerce and business function built on top of that infrastructure," Liederbach says. "It’s arrogant to believe we’re going to provide every aspect of software that this market needs. We will [continue to] make decisions about whether we build extensions to Net.Commerce or whether we partner with other businesses."

The value proposition for the customer, according to Liederbach, is: "one, the opportunity to have a choice of other technologies that complement a commerce server like Net.Commerce and, [two], it’s a step further that says we have done some of the integration work that accelerates the time to market or implementation time for them."

The addition of CyberSource to Net.Commerce is expected to particularly useful for software publishers looking for an easier way to distribute their own products. "If, for example, a software publisher wanted to be able to digitally download their products, they could now do it through Net.Commerce. Without the CyberSource component, they couldn’t do it," Quinn says.

The download service is just one component of CyberSource’s On-Demand portfolio, according to Quinn. "We provide complete outsourcing for the infrastructure, or the enabling technology," he says. "We provide people a protocol. With that protocol, or set of libraries, they can call our services rather than build a commerce server themselves or leverage a commerce server platform that they have to do other things, without building those cartridges themselves. Users still need Net.Commerce, but they can use CyberSource to add capabilities to their e-commerce systems."

Though CyberSource is available on the RS/6000, NT and Sun Solaris platforms, the company has plans to port its "libraries and its protocols" to the AS/400, according to Quinn. "The AS/400 is absolutely on our radar screen because that’s where a very important market is – the catalog direct marketing organizations (such as L.L. Bean and Victoria’s Secret)," he says.

Concurrent with the announcement of its CyberSource partnership, IBM chose early December to make a range of both announcements pertaining to Net.Commerce. Effective December 4, Net.Commerce Version 2 can be ordered simultaneously with AS/400 hardware. This combination of software and hardware is expected to reduce the need to use separate order numbers or forms for hardware and Net.Commerce software orders. In addition, Net.Commerce is now supported under Software Subscription for AS/400.

IBM has also announced Net.Commerce Euro support, auctioning technology and Hosting Server availability. Hosting Server has been available on the NT and AIX platforms since mid-December and will be available on Sun Solaris by the end of February. IBM is evaluating the AS/400 platform for Hosting Server. The installed base for the AS/400 is predominantly manufacturers and distributors who use Pro and Start, rather than a solution like Hosting Server, according to Liederbach.

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