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Server SET for e-commerce

A new version of IBM's merchant server supports the SET security standard to safeguard credit card transactions over the Net.

IBM (IBM) today unveiled a new version of its merchant server, adding a host of new features including support for a security standard to safeguard credit card transactions as they traverse the Net.

Version 2.0 of IBM's Net.Commerce software also will ship May 30 with new features to ease the setup and management of complex catalogs; the ability to tap non-IBM databases through support for ODBC (open database connectivity); and a "virtual sales assistant" to help shoppers locate merchandise they want in large online stores.

"We can provide a single server solution that customers can use regardless of whether the target customer is a consumer or a wholesale distributor," said Karl Salnoske, a general manager in IBM's Internet division. "Many of our competitors seem to be more focused on the retail sector, rather than the business-to-business sector."

"In the payment space, we are the only merchant server provider that has integrated SET payments," he added, referring to the Secure Electronic Transactions credit card protocol that MasterCard and Visa are pushing. IBM's new software will support the 0.9 version of SET and then offer an upgrade 30 to 60 days after the card companies finalize SET around June 1.

Net.Commerce's next version also will run on Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating system as well as Windows NT and IBM's own Unix, AS400, and mainframe platforms. Web sites running Netscape's Enterprise Server also can run Net.Commerce version 2.0.

IBM also named new customers and partners for its merchant server, including United Parcel Service; AMP, which is using Net.Commerce for an aircraft parts catalog and reselling it through its systems integration unit; paper plate-maker Hoffmaster; and an intranet site for Borders Books and Music.

Salnoske said IBM will market Net.Commerce aggressively to online malls and Web commerce hosting services, a market pursued by rivals such as Open Market, Microsoft, SpaceWorks, and Interworld Technology Ventures.

For IBM customers who want a hosted site rather than setting up their own, they can contract with IBM's World Distributor or World Avenue services, which focus respectively on interbusiness and consumer audiences.

Today's e-commerce announcement follows yesterday's news from IBM's Global Network Services division of new outsourcing services for Web site design and hosting.

Net.Commerce pricing will remain unchanged from its earlier version at $4,995 per processor.