‘Internet Concierge’ Plots Web Services Course


While many vendors advertise plumbing and tools for distributed computing
systems, a new start-up billing itself as an “Internet Concierge” emerged
from stealth mode with a working Web services platform
and application.


Rearden Commerce, previously known as Talaris, makes software that brings
services to corporate employees on demand.


Corporate employees can use the Rearden Employee Business Services (EBS)
application to purchase goods and book flights, hotels and dining
appointments through a Web browser, instantly tabulating the cost. It is
policy-based, granting users services based on their identities and rights
as employees.


Integrated with users’ calendars and contact lists, the system keeps them
updated on the latest status of their requests and coordinates groups of
employees involved in the same meeting or trip.


Employees scheduling audio or Web conferences can use the application to
access their Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes address books and send
calendar invitations to their contacts.


The Java-based software, which is based on the Rearden Commerce Platform, locates and connects to different applications and systems regardless of the
underlying technologies from various vendors.


Calling the Reardon Commerce Platform a “Google-like server farm,” Forrester
Research analyst Mike Gilpin said Reardon’s approach is interesting in that
the it proposes low-cost infrastructure based on low-cost Intel
boxes running Linux and Java. This enables rapid and dynamic provisioning of
services onto the grid.


Unlike most start-ups, Rearden comes to the table with Fortune 500 and
mid-market customers, as well as global reseller partners, such as HP, and
technology and content partners, such as ITA Software, Maporama and Northstar
Travel Media.


On-demand software is not a new category, though it is gaining in popularity
as customers seek the holy grail of automated software to do business.


Software providers, such as Salesforce.com and Grand Central Networks, provide
applications and integration on demand, respectively. But Rearden aims to
offer advanced employee services on the fly, according to Patrick Grady,
founder and CEO of Rearden Commerce.


Grady said companies spend more than $1.5 trillion on travel, Web
conferencing and package shipping each year, but just 10 percent of all
services transactions are made using e-commerce. He attributed this small
percentage to the complications of making software that asynchronously
exchanges messages, or talks to, disparate networks.


It’s one thing to make software that talks to disparate productivity
applications and treats them the same, but it’s another to mesh with the
company’s procurement policies.


For example, before a service is selected, a calendar must be consulted.
After the service is reserved or changed, the calendar must be automatically
updated. Also, the software has to compensate for real-time service changes,
such as an airline seat that can be available one minute and booked the
next.


Grady said that because of these complexities, there has been a lack of
innovation in online services procurement, leaving employees to manually
procure services. Rearden EBS can cut out complexity and time, saving
corporations money.


The concept of employee procurement services over the Internet is not new.
But the complexity of the technology and the dynamically changing variables
of available services have thwarted previous efforts from HP and Microsoft.


HP abandoned its eSpeak software offering years ago, while Microsoft’s
Hailstorm initiative never caught on with customers or developers.


Grady said he believes Rearden has successfully turned the complexity
corner.

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