Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 EDI combines with e-commerce in ECXpert







May 16, 1997


Netscape-GEIS joint venture combines EDI and e-commerce in ECXpert


By Jim Balderston

InfoWorld Electric


Actra, the joint venture of Netscape and General Electric Information Systems (GEIS), plans to announce next week the launch of the first product in its CrossCommerce line, which will provide both a foundation for traditional Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and electronic commerce over the Internet.

ECXpert provides "any-to-any data transformation," as well as key and certificate management, according to Jim Sha, president and CEO of Actra. These features are key in managing customer and supplier relations, as well as communicating with other types of transaction systems.

ECXpert will bridge existing EDI systems and open-standards-based Internet commerce, and it will help streamline procurement processes.

"You can set up your procurement process so that it is handled through automated push," Sha said. For example, a company could present an inventory database for automatically requesting, ordering, and paying for parts from a supplier, Sha said.

The key to Actra's future may lie in its ability to offer different electronic commerce options to companies, said one industry expert.

"I think they are on to something," said Mike Kennedy, an analyst at the Meta Group, in Stamford, Conn. "EDI has been used by a large number of Fortune 500 companies to integrate with big customers. But it's a lot of work to set up."

Actra provides more options by offering both EDI- and Internet-based commerce with EDI-like connectivity to billing and other back-end transaction functions.

"EDI requires lots of overhead. It isn't justified for customers that you are not doing large volumes of business with," Kennedy said. "This provides an umbrella relationship that allows me to handle low-volume customers with the full back-end connectivity that EDI provides."

ECXpert is due to ship June 1 and will be available for Sun Solaris 2.5.1 as well as Windows NT 3.51 and 4.0. Pricing begins at $25,000.

Actra Business Systems LLC, in Sunnyvale, Calif., is at (408) 542-3200 or


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