FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 1997 (Vol. 19, Issue 16)
E-commerce and publishing
Actra to spawn EDI tools
By Jim Balderston
A joint venture of Netscape and General Electric
Information Systems (GEIS) will announce on May 19 its first
homegrown products: tools for electronic data interchange
(EDI) and electronic commerce.
The 1-year-old Actra leverages Netscape's technology from
its Merchant System and Publishing System and GEIS'
experience with EDI and virtual private networks (VPNs).
Like its parent Netscape, which announced its Crossware
software strategy last month, Actra will follow a similar
theme, introducing a product line under the umbrella term
Actra's first product offerings are ECXpert, an
EDI-enabling tool that allows legacy systems to support EDI;
OrderXpert Seller; and OrderXpert Buyer. All three products
will be used for conducting EDI over the Internet, as
opposed to existing VPNs, said Jack Corsello, senior product
manager at Actra.
Actra also took over the stewardship of Netscape's
Merchant System and Publishing System in May 1996 when the
company was formed; it will offer an update to both products
later this year.
Version 2.0 of Publishing System is due out in the third
quarter and will offer document management, replication,
push delivery, and one-button publishing.
The next version of Merchant System, which Actra hopes to
release by the end of the year, will offer greater
flexibility for storefront presentation, customizable
back-end services, order-status monitoring, customer
profiles, and dynamic catalog presentation.
Whether Actra can measure up on the service side of the
business is yet to be seen.
"This is a very service-oriented business with a great
deal of customization. They [Actra] have yet to show they
can do the service side of this." said Rob Enderle, an
industry analyst at Giga Information Group, in Santa Clara,