Bulking Up E-Biz Platform

Infrastructure has never been one of the more compelling components of an e-business system

Infrastructure has never been one of the more compelling components of an e-business system, but IBM, Genuity Inc. and Firstsource Corp. are taking stabs at making IT managers take notice of e-commerce building blocks.

IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., next month will unveil its BtoBi platform, which not only acts as an infrastructure platform for companies looking to Web-enable their operations but also acts as an integration tool, linking back-end systems to Internet-enabled platforms. Under the hood of BtoBi, which is an underpinning to IBMs business-to-business e-marketplace initiatives, are multiple IBM middleware products, including WebSphere application server, MQSeries Messaging, MQSeries Integrator, MQSeries Workflow, Visual Age for Java and other products.

Genuity announced at last weeks Internet World trade show in Los Angeles its eServices Consulting service for the Black Rocket Internet infrastructure platform. Black Rocket integrates Web servers, application servers, data servers, data clusters, load balancing, a managed firewall and a managed virtual private network. With eServices Consulting, Genuity promises it can build an Internet platform in 10 days.

In the coming months, Genuity, of Burlington, Mass., plans to release solution sets for customer relationship management, supply chain management and e-procurement.

Similarly, Firstsource, a Santa Ana, Calif., procurement software provider to companies that buy nonproduction goods over the Internet, will release solution sets for e-procurement and replenishment over the next two quarters.

One tool, called Universal Procurement, allows businesses buying goods to set up any number of stock-keeping units and suppliers and source through that application. The second tool is Automated Replenishment, which automatically replenishes online orders based on specific criteria.

Users said they appreciate the need for tools to keep their e-business infrastructures integrated but need to see a definite ROI (return on investment).

"The challenge is delivering something that someone can get a good ROI [from]—and the ability to show that [the platform] will have impact," said Greg Keene, chief technology officer and co-founder of Qsent Inc., of Lake Oswego, Ore.

Even with new technologies making it easier for companies to ramp up their e-business initiatives, the economy does play a factor in IT spending.

Despite the general economic slowdown in the United States, Gartner Group Inc., of Stamford, Conn., last week predicted the worldwide B2B Internet commerce market is on pace to total $8.5 trillion in 2005.