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Allaire unveils e-commerce initiative

The software firm launches a new offensive against Microsoft and others as it tries to gain a bigger share of the e-commerce software market.

Allaire today launched a new offensive against Microsoft and other software makers as it tries to gain a bigger share of the e-commerce software market.

The software firm today announced a new product strategy it hopes will give businesses all the technology they need to build and manage e-commerce Web sites that link customers, partners and employees.

Allaire competes against Microsoft, Sun-Netscape Alliance, BEA Systems, IBM and dozens of others in the lucrative e-commerce software market.

Allaire executives said today the company is piecing together its own Web software with technology it has acquired in the past year to turn the company into a one-stop shop for e-commerce.

Like its competitors, Allaire builds application servers, technology that runs business software and handles the transactions, such as a Web surfer's request to buy products online. But now the companies are branching out and adding more e-commerce features, such as tools for Web publishing and managing Web content.

"The hot thing was application servers last year, now 'platforms' is the sell," said Jeremy Allaire, vice president of technology at Allaire.

Gartner Group analyst Daryl Plummer said Allaire's strategy to create a family of e-commerce software products is a smart move.

"Allaire is very popular, but their popularity won't last if they don't go to a complete package," Plummer said.

Allaire, one of the market leaders in application servers, said it will soon release a new application server that supports Sun Microsystems' latest version of Java, which includes the Enterprise JavaBeans programming model.

The application server, which includes Java technology from its purchase of Valto Systems and Live Software, will ship in the second quarter of 2000.

Allaire today said it acquired technology that will improve its Spectra software, which lets businesses build and manage Web-based content. Spectra includes e-commerce software, such as shopping carts and credit-card authorization, and personalization software, which profiles Web surfers and targets information based on their interests.

The company today bought technology from Bowne Internet Solutions that will allow Allaire to add more personalization features into Spectra, allowing businesses to create a better profile of customers and better reports on their customers' preferences. Allaire did not disclose financial details.

Allaire is also tying its visual development tools, such as its HomeSite Web page development software, as part of Spectra.

To round out its offerings, the company in the next 12 to 18 months will also release Web systems management software that will allow businesses to monitor the health of their Web sites. Allaire also is developing an XML integration server, software that will allow companies to tie their business software together.

XML, or Extensible Markup Language, is a Web standard for exchanging data. Microsoft, Oracle, Bluestone Software and others are all selling or developing XML integration servers.

The software allows business applications to communicate with each other, regardless of which operating system they run on or where they're located. With the explosion of e-business, companies are trying to build Web sites that link their customers, partners, suppliers and employees. But to do so, they need to integrate business programs never meant to work with each other, such as mainframe software and human resources and financial applications.