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iPlanet in E-Commerce Attack Mode

The e-commerce division of the Sun-Netscape Alliance will fire the newest salvo in the battle to produce the newest, catch-all solutions for an industry that is evolving according to customer demands and whims.

iPlanetT E-Commerce Solutions will kick off its next-generation commerce platform, which includes buying, selling, billing, market making and trade facilitation software solutions -- everything a solution provider needs to cover a broad range of e-commerce interests.

The platform wraps up a milange of the company's next-generation Java-based business applications, including iPlanetT BuyerXpert, iPlanetT BillerXpert, iPlanetT TrustBase Transaction Manager, iPlanetT Market Maker and iPlanetT SellerXpert.

But what's different is that those applications rely on smart services within the platform -- including unified user management, application and integration, communications and portal services, as a big step toward pushing its industry solutions past chief rivals Ariba Inc. and Commerce One Inc.

But Carol Adams, vice president of marketing for commerce services, told InternetNews.com Friday that a key difference between iPlanet's commerce services and those of its aforementioned competitors, is that Ariba and Commerce One typically offer their applications for franchises. Key among this, Adams said, is that those companies run such commerce platforms for, say, a Subway franchise. Sun steps back and lets the client have control.

"What we're finding, is that these franchises are choosing to step away from that hosted e-commerce for services that offer more personalization and customization," Adams noted.

When asked how the e-commerce experience is evolving, as many savvy businesses and attuned analysts note, Adams said iPlanet firmly believes that customers are not concentrating on the content and services of commerce platforms -- their primary interest lies in user experience.

Adams said the user defines experience in a myriad of ways -- from personalization and customization, to the predictable quality of e-commerce platform use.

A fair analogy to iPlanet's philosophy would be to compare commerce platform shopping to an prospective buyer's shopping for a car. The shopper knows the car will drive them from point A to point B just as they know to expect a radio -- think of this as the service and content inherent in a motor vehicle. But what a customer wants to know are the finer points. Will the seat adjust just so? What kind of stereo is in the dash? Does it have six-way speakers? This is what defines a user's experience as a driver just as iPlanet hopes to provide levels of customization within its own platform.

The revised applications are powered by iPlanet's Application Server and are architected by Java, Sun's ubiquitous technology.

Available on a per-central processing unit or subscription basis, iPlanet's BuyerXpert, BillerXpert and TrustBase products are available immediately while its two upgraded services, MarketMaker and SellerXpert, will be available to the public in the first quarter of 2001.