HP Partners with Intershop on Sell-Side E-Commerce

HP has unveiled an alliance with San Francisco-based Intershop Communications to deliver solutions based on Intershop enfinity, a sell-side e-commerce application. HP also will deploy enfinity internally for its own business-to-business (B2B) initiatives. In return, Intershop is making HP-UX the preferred platform for its software and will complete the port of enfinity to HP-UX in about six months. enfinity will accommodate the complete suite of HP-UX hardware, including the recently introduced HP 9000 A-Class servers.

Nigel Ball, Vice President and General Manager of HP's E-Services Partner Division, says that his company has made no equity commitments in Intershop. Ball did say, however, that the marketing commitments were "substantial."

The announcement comes as something of a surprise because of HP's close association with Intershop competitor, BroadVision. HP uses BroadVision software as the e-sales component of the HP FrontOffice customer relationship management (CRM) solution and also partners with USinternetworking to deliver HP BroadVision-based Enterprise Commerce as a hosted solution.

Asked about the strategy of partnering with both Intershop and BroadVision, Ann Livermore, President of HP's Enterprise and Commercial Business, acknowledged that HP usually chooses one partner in a particular arena but, in this case at least, has decided to go with "the top two or three."

In explaining its choice of enfinity, HP stressed deployment time—"two months or less"— as well as enfinity's compatibility with "multiple kinds of devices." Intershop looks like a company on the rise. It boasts more than 3,000 customers worldwide, and more than 100,000 e-commerce sites have licensed its products. It experienced a 250 percent increase in revenue in the first quarter of this year over revenue for the first quarter of 1999. That increase was enough to give the company its first profitable quarter.

Stephan Schambach, Intershop's founder and CEO, also stressed "sell-anywhere-on-the-Internet" capabilities—sales through company and affiliate Web sites, online marketplaces, wireless devices and portals. enfinity, built on Java, XML and CORBA, integrates with ERP and other business software as well as Internet applications and services. The software also enables what Intershop calls "Silent Commerce"—automated machine-to-machine transactions. The platform plays in both the B2B and B2C (business-to-consumer) arenas.

It's likely that HP and Intershop will be making more news. Execs say that, in the next few weeks, they will be "talking through" the possibility of integrating HP's e-speak technology with enfinity. On another front— concerning an effort to deliver a hosted, or ASP, version of enfinity—there was little comment. PSINet already hosts enfinity on Windows NT machines in Europe, but both Schambach and the HP execs had nothing to say about a hosted solution running on HP-UX.

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