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IBM continues e-business push

The company unveils a series of products and services for conducting business over the Internet, continuing its "e-business" push launched in the spring.

Continuing its focus on networks and "e-business," IBM (IBM) today unveiled a new service that lets corporate computing managers track and manage PC hardware and software on their networks.

The Asset Services offering from IBM Global Services, designed for companies with 1,000 to 5,000 desktops, is delivered via the Internet and Lotus Notes.

Other Big Blue initiatives unveiled today included a set of infrastructure software for ISPs dubbed "an ISP-in-a-box," a streaming video technology with hot links called HotVideo, new Web hosting options, and a $10 million research effort on business applications for Internet technologies.

HotVideo, a beta technology available for download free from IBM's alphaWorks Web site, allows hyperlinks to be embedded into digital video from a Web site, disks, CD-ROMs, and server files.

IBM expects HotVideo to appeal initially to Web advertisers, educational multimedia developers, video and computer games developers, broadcasters, and content sites such as CNN Interactive, a HotVideo beta site.

HotVideo, which runs on top of the new Java Media Framework, can be applied to digital video formats including AVI, MPG, DAT, RealMedia, and MOV video types. It comes in a suite with an authoring tool, a player for browsing, a Java implementation, a browser plug-in, and an ActiveX control.

One new hosting option, through IBM Global Services, lets customers have a dedicated server for just their own content, rather than sharing a service, as the current offering requires. The second is a high-bandwidth option (10 megabits per second) for high-volume Web sites.

By March, IBM plans to add other hosting features to support multiple IP addresses and domain names for each server plus firewall support for databases and Web servers.

IBM's Java unit also just finished working with Eddie Bauer on a 12-week pilot project to test building a single Java-based system that links the retailer's Web storefront, catalog sales, and stores. The project is being built with IBM's VisualAge for Java tools.

AMP's e-Merce Internet commerce consulting unit also announced it will resell IBM's e-business technologies.

As reported earlier this week, the ISP product, IBM Subscriber Management System (ISMS), includes features that help ISPs manage subscribers, balance traffic among multiple servers, create personalized "start" pages for subscribers, and operate services such as email, renting applications, Internet fax, and virtual private networks.

Big Blue's new Institute for Advanced Commerce, as reported last week, will include more than 50 IBM researchers delving into e-commerce technologies full- or part-time. It begins operation January 1.

In another e-business initiative, senior IBM executives have been running an online forum on how to buy and sell holiday gifts over the Internet, advising both shoppers and merchants.