Under the agreement, VeriLinks will resell and host Ariba e-commerce software and provide access to Ariba Network services. The deal also includes joint sales and marketing efforts.
Ariba's interest in the application services provider (ASP) market comes at a time when many business software firms are looking to push their wares in the increasingly lucrative niche, according to Laurie Orlove, an analyst with Forrester Research.
"We expect the ASP market to make up a quarter of all software sales in the next few years and (Ariba) wants to be a part of that," Orlove said.
Orlove said that although large companies have been slow to embrace the ASP model, small and medium-sized companies have been quick to jump in. "Ariba wants to sell to that market," she added.
Ariba competes with Commerce One in selling business-to-business software to the auto manufacturing, chemical manufacturing and pharmaceutical markets.
In recent months, a flurry of deals have marked the fast-growing business-to-business market. In November, CommerceOne inked a deal with carmaker General Motors to create GM MarketSite, an online marketplace for car parts and other services. Ariba also announced a recent deal with Dupont.
Exchanges that connect companies with partners, suppliers and customers over the Net are a huge piece of the business-to-business market. Forrester expects U.S. Internet commerce for auto manufacturing to expand to $212.9 billion and computer electronics to reach $295.3 billion by 2003.
Ariba's technology allows companies to collect information on the purchases of goods and services from each employee desktop and sum up spending through the Ariba Network to suppliers and business-to-business marketplaces.
The agreement will also provide buyers and their suppliers with access to Ariba Network commerce services, including auction, reverse auction, electronic payment, content management, global supplier and business-to-business marketplace directory services, and transaction services.
"VeriLinks has the mission-critical business and technical expertise to effectively market and deliver Ariba solutions to emerging high-growth companies," Dan Fishback, vice president of global channels at Ariba, said in a statement.