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Digital, Wells team for merchants

Digital will unveil a distribution partnership with Wells Fargo to offer the bank's merchants turnkey software for Internet storefronts.

WASHINGTON--Digital Equipment (DEC) on Tuesday will unveil a distribution partnership with Wells Fargo (WFC) to offer the bank's merchants turnkey software for setting up Internet storefronts running on Windows NT.

The move represents Digital's efforts to expand beyond its usual distribution channels, though its direct-sales force and traditional resellers also will sell its e-commerce offering, called virtualStore.

"We see this kind of market being more instigated or promoted by nontraditional channels, such as financial institutions, ISPs, even telcom providers who want to maintain their existing relationships with these merchants," said Ted McKie, a director of business development for Digital.

Digital also will release services that put its AltaVista firewall software on two Alpha hardware servers, one as a backup in case the first fails. It plans an additional announcement with a unit of USWest.

"No one has done a firewall on a clustered solution," said R.V. Rao, another Digital director.

The security offering, Available Service Environment Firewall Services, is available now on Digital Unix in the United States, next month in Europe, and on Windows NT early next year. It includes security consulting from Digital at custom prices.

virtualStore will use merchant server software from Microsoft (MSFT) and "cash register" software from VeriFone, now a unit of Digital hardware rival Hewlett-Packard (HPW).

Although the Wells Fargo version of the e-commerce offering uses VeriFone software to accept payments, Digital's system will be available through other channels with CyberCash (CYCH) merchant payment software.

"We can offer a complete solution that can scale to any size," McKie said. "We see a trend that companies need to be able to offer products or services very quickly and easily on the Internet." With virtualStore, he said, Web merchants can go live in a quarter of the time compared to doing it on their own, as little as two to four weeks.

Digital's service arm will provide the hardware, software, and consulting to set up Internet storefronts running Microsoft's merchant software, Site Server enterprise edition, on Intel-based Pentium Pro servers. Wells Fargo will process credit card transactions.

virtualStore packages are priced at three levels, starting at $75,000. The ASE Firewall Services will be quoted on a custom basis.