Tech Industry

Sterling revamped after deals

Closing a major acquisition, Sterling Commerce outlines its plans for integrating remote access technology from XcelleNet.

Closing a major acquisition, Sterling Commerce today outlined its plans for integrating remote access technology from XcelleNet into each of its three product lines.

The company also will roll its professional services operations into a single unit, crossing e-commerce and remote communications.

"The market demand for managed services far exceeds our ability to deliver all the services that we might," said Brad Sharp, president of Sterling's Interchange Software Group. "By consolidating into a single organization, we could achieve critical mass and grow this business at a much faster rate than if each part were growing independently."

Sterling Commerce added it has acquired a Singapore company, iCommerce, as a base for expanding throughout Asia and to incorporate the firm's Web commerce business running industry trading networks and online retail stores.

"Our intent is to leverage what iCommerce has done in the Singapore market to the rest of Asia Pacific," Sharp noted. "We will use it as a launch pad for all of Asia."

Sterling management positions the XcelleNet acquisition as its most strategic among the 20-plus deals it has executed. When announced in April, the cash-and-stock deal was valued at $200 million, but a decline in Sterling Commerce's stock price put the value at $175 million at closing today. XcelleNet has 1997 revenues of $53.6 million, compared $350 million-plus for Sterling Commerce.

The XcelleNet technology gives Sterling Commerce the ability to make it easier for customers to deploy, manage, and maintain electronic commerce activities for remote and mobile users in branch offices, as well as telecommuters, traveling professionals, or partner organizations.

"We are leveraging the ability to service remote and mobile users and provide another dimension to the infrastructure for electronic commerce," said Steve Perkins, president of Sterling Commerce's communication software group.

Even before the XcelleNet acquisition was announced in April, Sterling had integrated XcelleNet's RemoteWare software with its Connect:Direct communications software. With the deal's close, RemoteWare and RemoteWare Express have been added to the Connect product family for managing remote and mobile systems.

The firm's Commerce family also will add management capabilities for remote systems, expediting the exchange of electronic business transactions among multiple partners in trading communities. XcelleNet's technology also will improve delivery of electronic data interchange (EDI) templates

Remote capabilities will be added to Sterling's Gentran products and services for automating business transactions via the Web, email, EDI, and other means.

Sterling Commerce expects the remote features for Gentran and Commerce offerings to be available in the first quarter of 1999.

The acquisition of iCommerce brings Sterling Commerce experience in managing BookNet, a extranet that uses EDI over the Internet to let Singapore booksellers order books, and ShopNet, an online grocery shopping service based on Web protocols. iCommerce also runs ChemNet, for the petrochemical industry in Singapore, and E*Net for electronic manufacturing.

In May, Sterling Commerce acquired another Singapore firm, Network Integration Systems, which had previously owned iCommerce. Both Singapore acquisitions are completed.