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IBM reworks e-commerce lineup

The company will this week announce new security and payment software, and e-commerce services for small businesses.

IBM (IBM) is refreshing its e-commerce lineup.

Tomorrow, Big Blue will unveil a new, Java-enabled version of its secure container software, now called Cryptolope Live. It not only builds a secure wrapper around content or software applications so they can be sent safely over the Internet, it also governs how the information inside may be used.

Cryptolope Live is one of three announcements IBM plans for tomorrow at the Internet Commerce Expo trade show in Los Angeles. The others relate to new IBM e-commerce software and service offerings.

Taken together, the announcements represent a major refresh and upgrade of IBM's Internet commerce offerings, giving it perhaps the broadest line of any e-commerce technology vendor.

Cryptolope Live expands IBM original secure wrapper software by bundling Java applets with the container to enforce how the encrypted software is used. That could include whether it may be copied, used a limited number of times, or resold. Pricing and availability for Cryptolope Live, to be sold as a product, will be announced in the fourth quarter.

"We went back to the basics in January and completely re-architected Cryptolopes, which are now applets as opposed to static documents," said Jeff Crigler, vice president of Internet information technologies in IBM's Internet division.

Cryptolope Live comes with a license clearinghouse server and tools for bundling content in Cryptolopes and building Cryptolope applications.

By reviving Cryptolopes, IBM could pressure the growing number of Internet start-ups that have market "secure wrapper" software or services, including Test Drive, Release Software, Portland Software, and Preview Software.

At the ICE show, IBM will demonstrate using Cryptolope Live for a training course in IBM's Java certification program, which certifies engineers who have passed a Java course and exam.

In other announcements, as CNET's NEWS.COM reported in July, IBM also will introduce eTill, its "cash register" software that lets Internet merchants accept credit card payments.

Initially eTill will handle credit card transactions under the Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) protocol, but future versions will include cassettes for accepting other forms of payment, including digital checks and electronic cash.

IBM will introduce eTill, designed to work with merchant server software from other vendors too, as part of its CommercePoint Payment family for handling payments on the Net. Other payment software, which goes into beta next month and is scheduled for delivery in November, will include:
--A software "wallet" for consumers to use for various kinds of electronic payments.
--CommercePoint Gateway software for banks to accept credit card transactions from their Internet merchants.
--IBM Registry for SET software for setting up a certificate authority (CA) to issue digital certificates to consumers, merchants, and banks under the SET protocol. Created by Visa and MasterCard, SET requires digital certificates to verify the identity of parties involved in Internet credit card purchases.

IBM's third announcement will be new e-commerce service offerings, targeted to smaller companies in line with IBM's recent small-business focus.

The new additions to IBM's Net.Commerce family of services include Net.Commerce Start, targeted at companies seeking low costs and ease of use; SmoothStart, a fixed-fee consulting service to get an e-commerce site up and running; and Net.Commerce Pro, for larger companies seeking to update e-commerce capabilities of existing Web sites.

Net.Commerce Start, the entry-level service priced under $5,000, includes IBM's merchant server; wizards and templates for creating storefronts and taking orders; eTill capabilities to accept charge card purchases; and support for Web servers from IBM subsidiary Lotus.

Net.Commerce Start will be targeted at retailers, catalog marketers, wholesale or distribution companies in the business-to-business market, and sellers of electronic services like online ticketing, said Karl Salnoske, IBM's vice president of Internet applications.

"Those customers can get a server installed in a matter of weeks," he said.

SmoothStart, delivered initially by IBM Global Services, includes consulting and training services and will be priced at $20,000 to $50,000.

Net.Commerce Pro is an upgraded version of the Net.Commerce Start package with advanced catalog capabilities and tools to facilitate integration with existing back-end systems including SAP's R/3, EDI, and various IBM applications.

"We have heard loud and clear from sophisticated customers that they have to link their Web commerce site into their back-end legacy systems," Salnoske said. Net.Commerce Pro also will include an EDI interface so those forms-based, direct computer-to-computer e-commerce messages can be routed to an existing EDI infrastructure, initially through IBM Global Network, IBM's own secure value-added network, but later to other VANs too.

Reuters contributed to this story