IBM enhances WebSphere eCommerce Suite, boosts Java

By Jessica Davis, InfoWorld |  Development

SAN MATEO -- IBM Corp. Tuesday announced Version 5.1 of its WebSphere Commerce Suite, adding multicultural functions, mobile device functionality, and boosting Java support.

The system's multicultural support goes beyond just language, offering culture-specific currency, tax, and shopping options.

"Currently, customers have to deploy multiple sites to adhere to different cultural rules," said Ed Kilroy, general manager of IBM's eCommerce Software Group. "This lets you deploy from a single site, catalog, or store. It's a more cost-effective way for deploying global commerce solutions."

In addition, Version 5.1 adds support for mobile devices such as cell phones, PDAs, Web TV, and laptops. Support includes notification messages, automatic content selection for specific devices, customized shopping flow for specific devices, and support for http/html, WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)/WML (Wireless Markup Language), and iMode.

The system also adds a function enabling business managers to create targeted campaigns and get immediate reporting results on their success without enlisting the help of IT.

The ease of use and real-time reporting allow managers to quickly react to changing market conditions.

"The interface is intuitive," Kilroy said. "It does not require a technical background. It helps business managers dynamically react to changing market situations."

In addition, IBM has moved Version 5.1 to what the company called 100 percent Java, making the architecture easy to extend and taking advantage of the plentiful Java skills available in the market.

"One of the greatest features is the open-solution, industry-standard Java," said Marshall Freiman, CTO of Phoenix-based e-commerce integrator Web Emporium, and one of the customers for Version 5.1 that IBM announced Tuesday.

"It's easier to hire developers for Java. They are excited about working on it," Freiman said.

Available immediately, the system runs on Windows NT and will be available for AIX on Feb. 28 and for Solaris on March 30. Later this year, IBM will make the system available on Linux.

IBM also announced revenue for its WebSphere Commerce suite grew by more than 300 percent for the year 2000, outpacing the industry growth rate of 145 percent.

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