Internet commerce push is a new initiative for the firm as to date, SGI has been known best for its Cosmo authoring tools and high-performance hardware.
"Electronic commerce is going to be taking off," said SGI's Lenny Rosenthal, manager of market and business development. "That's why we're getting into the market."
SGI contrasts its partnering strategy with IBM's approach of offering similar services from a single vendor: Big Blue. And while IBM, which yesterday rolled out an alliance with major banks, is targeting industries where it has traditional strength, SGI is going after Internet service providers, media companies, and Hollywood firms that are "serious about the Web," Rosenthal said.
Among the sites now using SGI technology for Internet commerce are wine vendor Virtual Vineyard and American Airlines' Travelocity travel reservation site, and newspaper publisher Knight Ridder, which uses SGI for its 31 newspapers, including Mercury Center from its Silicon Valley-based San Jose Mercury News .
"We believe authoring and content in general are going to be critical," Rosenthal added, saying presentation and compelling content will become a differentiator between Web sites. "If the presentation is not engaging, if you don't have the right tools to develop content, customers won't use it."
SGI will provide fast server hardware and its Cosmo suite of authoring
tools, and partners will offer other elements:
-- BroadVision, whose software lets a Web merchant customize offers and marketing within a storefront to a specific customer based on preferences.
--CyberCash, which both processes credit card transactions for merchants and markets a consumer "wallet" that contains electronic credit cards, other forms of payment, and identification for shoppers.
--EveryWare Development, whose Tango and Tango Merchant software tools integrate databases with Web sites.
--Netscape Communications, whose Merchant System Web server software lets retailers create virtual storefronts or online shopping malls.
--Open Market, a high-end Web server vendor that specializes in transaction-intensive Web sites.
--V-One, a security software firm that supplies firewalls and authentication software to enable secure transactions over the Net.
In addition, SGI will partner with systems integrators to sell, install, and build Web storefronts for customers. They include AT&T, Claremont Technology Group, Computer Sciences Corporation, EDS, and Web Factory.