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IBM's ISP e-commerce software

Big Blue is offering an additional version of its e-commerce software to ISPs and Web hosting services.

    Broadening its e-commerce offerings, IBM is slated to announce this week that it will add a version of its e-commerce software to ISPs and Web hosting services.

    The new offering includes server software with tools, management, and administrative services designed for ISPs to offer e-commerce services to small and midsize enterprises. The ISP version of IBM's software lets merchants to move from the hosted offering to running their own storefront operations, said David Liederbach, director of e-commerce marketing for IBM's software division.

    "Small and midsized ISPs and larger ISPs can extend beyond basic ISP services to provide commerce applications," Liederbach said, noting that many Internet services providers are looking for incremental revenue.

    IBM enters a market where Open Market has found some success selling its e-commerce software to large ISPs to host multiple storefronts for customers. Liederbach's comments suggest IBM will pursue smaller ISPs with its offerings.

    "We are finding there are 14,000 ISPs worldwide, and Open Market has a collection of customers at high end of marketplace, but there's a whole range of them looking at systems based on open standards and open architectures," Liederbach said.

    "When IBM moves, they have a sizable impact due to their mass," said Jim Balderston, analyst at Zona Research.

    Big Blue will join other major IT vendors targeting the ISP market as the ISPcom trade show opens in San Jose, California. Hewlett Packard today unveiled a strategy designed to wean ISPs off Sun Microsystems' hardware, and Netscape Communications cofounder Marc Andreessen is expected to announce an ISP offering in his keynote tomorrow. Silicon Graphics has scheduled a news conference for tomorrow on its ISP strategy.

    IBM's software includes both tools for merchants to create a Web storefront in as little as 20 minutes and tools for ISPs to manage large numbers of hosted Net stores. The ISP tools include multiple ways to bill storefronts.

    The software, due to ship in December, is designed so merchants can create a Web storefront in 20 minutes. For ISPs, the offering includes management tools for billing, administration, and aspects of running a commerce service provider operation.

    IBM Global Network is deploying much of the technology for the storefronts that IBM hosts for merchants, and HP's Nigel Ball thinks ISPs will view IBM as a competitor, not a software provider.

    The ISP-hosted version of IBM's Net.Commerce lets merchants use a downloadable Java applet to create catalog pages and a Web storefront. The offering includes IBM's payment server and the ability to use CyberCash's credit card processing options.

    The ISP version of Net.Commerce is due to ship in December on Windows NT, AIX, and Solaris operating systems. It utilizes Web Sphere load-balancing technologies that IBM announced earlier this month. Pricing for the software has not been announced.