Net.Commerce 3.2 Growing as Net.Commerce Platform

Net.Commerce V3.2 and Catalog Architect V3.2 feature the following:
  • Enhancements in performance and scalability
  • An open e-commerce platform for ISV and business partner integration
  • Relationship marketing and merchandising capabilities
  • Tools for content creation and management
Responding to the ever-changing needs of Internet-based businesses, IBM announced Net.Commerce V3.2 and Catalog Architect V3.2 at the IBM Solutions '99 Conference in Las Vegas.

"The new versions of Net.Commerce and Catalog Architect will help both new and existing e-businesses maximize the value of their Internet commerce initiatives," says Karl Salnoske, general manager of e-commerce for IBM Software Solutions.

According to David Lieverbach, VP of e-commerce marketing for IBM, Net.Commerce has a strong base of AS/400 customers and is doing very well in sales on the platform this year. "E-commerce is about extending business applications and processes to other businesses and customers," he says. "The AS/400 is a natural fit and is the premier application server for e-commerce."

Available in two forms, START and PRO, Net.Commerce V3.2 provides an open platform for ISV and business partner integration and features improved scalability and availability through enhancements in areas such as mass import utility, database access and caching. Tivoli systems management support has been added to improve reliability and manageability, and the new release also incorporates the latest version of IBM Payment Server.

Steve Robbins, senior analyst in the Internet computing strategy division of Yankee Group (Boston), is impressed with the latest version of Net.Commerce. "I think it's an increasingly robust product that's adding important new functionality," he says. "It's a product that companies should be actively evaluating."

Lieverbach says two of the biggest enhancements in V3.2 are a 100-fold increase in import utility and a 30-to-100 percent performance increase, which he says is due mainly to caching enhancements. "In the first quarter we sat down with our customers and asked them to prioritize their requirements," he says. "Added performance and the ability to grow sites were there number one issues."

One of the new features announced with V3.2 is a Net.Commerce Cyber Community site. Instead of having to wait for a new version of Net.Commerce, customers with versions 3.1 or higher will now be able to go to the Web site and download free software enhancements for a range of applications. IBM will make continuous enhancements to a variety of applications. "The Internet moves quickly and companies don't have the time to wait for enhancements, so I think the community Web site is a great idea," Robbins says. "It's exactly the way upgrades for Internet sites should be handled."

Robbins points to the focus on content management as another area he's impressed with, specifically in respect to the number of ISV relationships IBM has entered into. In all, IBM now has more than 1,000 ISVs, including business partner relationships, to give Net.Commerce customers a full range of options.

The ISVs can assist Net.Commerce customers in leveraging existing information assets and deploying their Web sites faster and with greater efficiency. If any ISV offers features that a Net.Commerce customer wants to add, the partner will develop a set of assets to integrate their product with Net.Commerce V3.2. "They have entered into agreements with companies like Interwoven (Sunny Vale, Calif.) and others who are really big in the ISV area," Robbins adds.

Catalog Architect V3.2, which collects, manages and creates information associated with an e-commerce site, has also been enhanced to make content management and creation easier for businesses. It includes support for XML as well as enhancements such as smart guides for improving data. A consistency-checking feature will call out any mistakes that occur in the catalog. "You have to have a way to populate and manage the catalog and IBM has done that," Robbins says.

Lieverbach says he expects the popularity of Net.Commerce to continue to grow in the next millennium. "We're seeing tremendous growth in our business that is exceeding the growth in the market," he says. "With business partners and ISVs we're growing anywhere from two to three times larger on an annual basis due to customer demand."

IBM Net.Commerce START V3.2 has a list price of $4,999 while Net.Commerce PRO 3.2 is listed at $19,999. Catalog Architect V3.2 has a list price of $3,000.