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IBM helps firms charge for Web services

Big Blue is set to release new e-business software designed to make it easy for banks and other companies to charge for their Web services.

IBM will soon sell new e-business software designed to make it easy for telecommunications service providers, banks and other companies to charge for their Web services.

The technology, currently code-named Project Allegro, will let businesses track the use of Web services so they can bill customers through a variety of subscription-based models, such as pay-per-use, said Bob Sutor, IBM's director of e-business standards strategy. The software is also designed to ensure service quality by monitoring the Web service and seeing to it that transactions occur in a timely manner, Sutor said.

Like software rivals Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, BEA Systems and others, IBM believes the future of software lies with Web services, functions that let companies interact with one another and with consumers to conduct business via the Internet.

Project Allegro, available next year, will let businesses set prices and policies on service quality, Sutor said. For example, a company could charge $500 for the first 500 uses of a particular Web service, then 25 cents for each use after that, he said. The business can then promise that the service will do its job in 15 seconds or less, and if it doesn't, offer a 10 percent discount.

IBM first offered a free prototype of the technology on its AlphaWorks Web site in January. The company will release a test version by the end of the year and ship the product next year, Sutor said.

Project Allegro includes technology from other IBM products, including Big Blue's WebSphere server software for building portal and e-commerce Web sites and its Tivoli software for managing computing systems.