FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ACTRA DETAILS E-COMMERCE PLANS
CNet, May 7, 1997- By Tim Clark
Breaking a long public silence, Actra Business Systems
said today it will provide details on a suite of
interbusiness e-commerce software on May 19. The joint
venture of Netscape Communications (NSCP) and GE Information
Systems (GE), will include ECXpert in the business software
suite. ECXpert is an electronic data interchange (EDI)
product for the Net that integrates with other messaging
protocols.The suite will also include OrderXpert Seller and
OrderXpert Buyer for other forms of Net-based electronic
Since the joint venture was announced last April, Actra
has taken over two Netscape products, Merchant System,
selling primarily to consumers over the Internet, and
Publishing System, for offering subscription content from
Web sites. Those products, combined with Actra's future
business-to-business products, will form the Actra
"Actra will offer a complete architecture for
inter-enterprise deployment to sell published products or
other goods over the Internet," said Actra's Jack Corsello,
senior product for manager for Merchant System, indicating
that Actra will focus on high-volume Web storefronts or
Actra wants to offer software for the range of business
partners, he said. Corsello noted that the Merchant and
Publishing software have been shipping for two years, with
customers including JC Penney, the Los Angeles Times, the
New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
Corsello said the 2.0 release for Merchant System, due
near the end of the year, will allow Web sites to generate
customized pages to specific customers based on their
interests and past shopping patterns. It also will support
the Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) protocol for secure
credit card transactions over the Net, due to be published
June 1. The merchant software currently uses Secure Sockets
Layer (SSL) encryption for credit card sales.
In addition, the next release will incorporate greater
flexibility and ease of use for merchants, plus the ability
to customize back-end services by using business rules to
link to existing applications. The company will also upgrade
customer service and marketing features, although those may
not make the initial 2.0 release.
"We are looking to provide complete application
solutions, not a toolkit or just one piece of the puzzle,"
Corsello said, seeking to differentiate Actra from
competitors such as Microsoft, IBM, Open Market, iCat,
BroadVision, and Connect. Actra currently offers only Unix
versions of Merchant System but is evaluating a potential
Windows NT version.
Actra expects a new version of its publishing software
late in the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter.
Enhancements will include easier staging and replication of
content, targeted content for specific subscribers, site
templates, and email notification of new content.
Both Merchant and Publishing software will support the
Common Object Request Broker Architecture and Internet Inter