Sterling Commerce, in Dublin, Ohio, was involved in electronic commerce when transactions took place on closed, proprietary systems using the electronic data interchange format. In its more than 30 years of existence, the company has seen the emergence of the World Wide Web, the Internet bubble and its own corporate changes. The company became an independent corporation in 1996 after being a division of Sterling Software. In 2000, Sterling Commerce was acquired by SBC Communications Inc. Recently, Sam Starr, Sterling Commerces president and CEO, sat down with eWEEK Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist to talk about the upcoming introductions of service-oriented applications for commerce and the future of electronic commerce.
Sterling has been around in one form or another for quite a while.
This is our 30th year in the business. We are a rare bird in the software services industry. This year we started off ... with a bang with our acquisition of Yantra Corp. [in Tewksbury, Mass.].
What did Yantra bring to the table?
At the heart of it is our firm belief there is a tremendous blurring of infrastructure and applications, enabled by service-oriented architecture. We had always viewed ourselves as an infrastructure company. Yantra brings the application code and solutions. They have a warehouse solution set that is network-based and network-oriented built on top of a pure service- oriented architecture.
There are many examples of companies making acquisitions with the hope of achieving some new synergy that never seems to develop. Why will the Sterling Commerce and Yantra combination be a success?
The tightly coupled Yantra applications will sit right on top of our integration engine. Together well actually be moving it out to a single code base. With Yantra, we can enrich what was just a plumbing environment to create a full business solution.
How will emerging companies in countries such as China or India participate in these composite applications where manufacturing, distributions and sales need to be pulled together from many companies, geographies and vendors?
My gut feel is emerging giants like China may skip the software-behind-the-firewall phenomena. I think they will go with a hosted service.
Your parent company is SBC Communications. What do telecommunications and packaged composite applications have in common?
We get particularly excited with [SBCs] AT&T Corp. acquisition, but I really cant say much about that. They have us under the cone of silence. We are very excited about what that possibility could mean with AT&Ts enterprise relationships.