IBM Advances on AS/400 E-Commerce Front

Ken Deats

IBM is starting to make good on its recent promises made to business partners to brand the AS/400 as a viable e-commerce platform. As evidence, note five recent announcements Big Blue has made toward fulfillment of that promise.

1. WebSphere Advanced Edition for AS/400 provides Enterprise Java Bean support. “That’s a capability we didn’t have on WebSphere Standard Edition,” says John Quarantello, AS/400 e-business segment manager at IBM. “This builds off of that and gives you the EJB support.”

2. IBM announced at PartnerWorld 2000 in January that AS/400 support for WebSphere Commerce Suite was a statement of direction. “It still is a statement of direction, and we’re looking for it sometime in the middle of the year,” says Louise Hemond-Wilson, also an AS/400 e-business segment manager. She adds that the suite has enhanced some of its B2C capabilities and has begun focusing on enhancing its B2B capabilities. As example, Hemond-Wilson points to strong sell-side B2B offerings that include improvements in personalization, auctioning and reporting. She also says that the suite has added Net.Commerce’s rebranded and repackaged Payment Server, now called Payment Manager. Enhancements to Payment Manager include the ability to host payment processing, support for multiple currencies, multiple languages and multiple instances. “We’re starting to form this picture where we play strong in B2C,” she says. “Now we’re really a player in B2B, particularly on the sell side and in Web-based EDI.”

3. IBM has announced updates to Visual Age for Java and WebSphere studio to their respective 3.0 versions. What that means, says Quarantello, is better integration with WebSphere and EJB and Java 2 support.

4. Host Publisher, which connects multiple back-end applications to new Web-based applications and serves the data to a single HTML browser, is now supported on the AS400. “It can combine information from an S/390, AS/400 and NT system to look like a single application to the user,” says Quarantello. While the programming is done at the client, the Host Publisher piece previously had to reside either on a Unix or NT server. But now, he adds, “You decide which server you want to run the Host Publisher part on, and now the AS/400 can be that server.”

5. Last, IBM has announced AS/400 support for MQSeries 5.1 starting in April.

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