Commerce One Teaming for B2B Apps

But companies want more testing, integration features before they'll heavily invest in the software.

Commerce One Inc. last week rolled out products that it jointly developed with big-name partners Microsoft Corp., SAPMarkets Inc. and Citibank in an effort to make e-marketplace software standard equipment in IT shops.

While users welcomed the new tools, some said Commerce One and other business-to-business software developers need to do a better job of testing the software and integrating more features before the products can be deemed 100 percent enterprise-ready.

"There is some base-level blocking and tackling that needs to occur before we make a significant investment in supply chain collaboration technol- ogy," said Bob Renner, chief technology officer at ForestExpress.

Nevertheless, Renner considered Commerce Ones relationship with enterprise applications giant SAP AG a deciding factor in Atlanta-based ForestExpress decision to use those companies technologies.

Commerce One and SAP subsidiary SAPMarkets, of Mountain View, Calif., last week at the Commerce One eLink user show here demonstrated upgrades to their jointly developed MarketSet and Enterprise Buyer software.

Commerce One, of Pleasanton, Calif., joined with Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., to introduce two products—the Commerce One MarketSite Connectivity Kit for BizTalk and the MarketSite Gateway for BizTalk Framework. The companies have standardized more than 30 transactions that they said should go a long way toward easier integrations with e-marketplaces.

With Citigroup Inc. subsidiary Citibank e-Business, Commerce One announced Commerce One Financial Services, the first fruits of their alliance formed last year to provide a comprehensive financial settlement solution for e-marketplaces.

While users roundly applaud Commerce Ones partnership with SAPMarkets, and to a lesser extent Microsoft, some are not convinced Commerce Ones software is fully mature.

Andy Plyler, CEO of aerospace exchange Exostar LLC, for example, said he isnt ready to jump into using Commerce One Financial Services just because Exostar uses Commerce Ones procurement engine.

"[Commerce One] would be an automatic consideration but not an automatic decision," said Plyler, in Reston, Va. "We are looking at Citibank, but also at American Express Co., [which] has already matured [its financial services] offering."

ForestExpress Renner said that a world-class, hub-and-spoke architecture, as well as middleware that effectively connects to back-office systems, needs to be put in place before true B2B collaboration can be realized.

Another observer worried that Commerce One may be perceived as too much of a Microsoft shop, alienating companies that want to use Java and other non-Microsoft technologies.

Some Commerce One users said they believe that the technology is maturing and that businesses are the ones that need to catch up. "The question is not Does this work? It does work. The question is, When will the tide shift [and people begin to use e-marketplaces]?" said Scott Schwartz, president of Dale Electric Supply Co., in Glens Falls, N.Y. "We believe it is shifting and the tools are there."