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Help for commerce site building

Encanto Networks will unveil an easy-to-use software and hardware package for small businesses that want an online presence.

A new venture headed by former Novell executive Robert Frankenberg will use the stage of Fall Internet World 97 next week to unveil an easy-to-use software and hardware package for small businesses that want an online presence.

Start-up Encanto Networks wants to remove the complexity for small businesses and small home office operations that are looking to build an interactive Web site that can also handle e-commerce, according to Frankenberg.

The company--which is calling the package an "Internet appliance"--hopes to do this by simplifying the installation and configuration of a series of software programs for building a site and allowing users to implement a transaction system for electronic commerce, Frankenberg said.

The software is based on the Java programming language and will include email, news, firewall, and electronic commerce capabilities. The software will support the SET (secure electronic transactions) protocol to facilitate secure commerce across the Net. A version of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), a layer of software that makes Java programs run, will be included in the bundle.

The software will take advantage of a basic series of "templates" that businesses can use to get their Web sites going, or customers can go beyond the templates to customize the look and feel of their sites, Frankenberg said.

The hardware will basically act as a typical server system, with support for a variety of Net connections, including analog modems and ISDN (integrated services digital network). Encanto will offer a service to connect the appliance to an ISP (Internet service provider).

Frankenberg said the company's focus would be on the small office/home office (SOHO).

"There certainly is a fear and concern that this is complicated stuff," the CEO said. "Our biggest challenge will be convincing people how easy it is when there are so many people convincing people how hard it is."

The box has piqued the interest of at least one major corporation. The company is currently in discussion with a corporation over a possible order of 20,000 units. Frankenberg said the company is looking at giving its customers the Encanto boxes to create an extranet.

The new Encanto software and hardware is currently in beta and will be generally available at the start of next year.