Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 CommerceXpert FAQs





What is Actra CommerceXpert?

Actra CommerceXpert is an integrated family of Internet commerce application solutions for conducting business-to-business and business-to-consumer commerce on the Internet. The family consists of five products focused on buying, selling and merchandising over the Internet.

ECXpert: EDI for the Internet

ECXpert is the foundation member of Actra's CommerceXpert portfolio. It enables companies to build and deploy an internet-centric electronic commerce program. Advantages include: secure communications; standards-based, interoperable technology; wide accessibility; reduced implementation and operational costs; and protection of legacy system investments.

SellerXpert and BuyerXpert: Corporate Buying and Selling On The Internet

SellerXpert allows corporations to establish an online selling presence for their corporate clients. It helps corporations not only increase top line revenue, but also lower operating costs and improve customer service. SellerXpert is a full-featured product including comprehensive order management, seller and buyer maintained membership, flexible payment options, next-generation electronic product catalog, full data transformation and EDI capability.

BuyerXpert complements SellerXpert as an Internet procurement system that operates in a multi-supplier, inter-enterprise environment. Using BuyerXpert, corporations can dramatically reduce order-processing costs while minimizing manual buyer intervention on low-value, high-volume transactions. By enforcing corporate contracts and approvals, it provides corporate control and requester self-service in a decentralized buying environment.

MerchantXpert: Internet Retailing

MerchantXpert (the next release of Netscape Merchant System) leverages the advanced order management capabilities and object infrastructure built into SellerXpert and applies this technology to the retailing world. MerchantXpert will allow companies to provide an online, personalized internet storefront supporting a dynamic one-to-one presentation, along with product and promotional displays and features to utilize customer buying profile information.

PublishingXpert: Comprehensive Extranet Publishing Solution

PublishingXpert (the next release of Netscape Publishing System) is a complete, end to end, business solution that allows companies to share and sell their knowledge capital. PublishingXpert provides a turnkey solution that accelerates the time it takes to bring new online services to market. It features web publishing with robust content and document management, distributed staging services, customer service interfaces, granular access control, and industry-strength search services. In addition, PublishingXpert, supports a wide range of payment options, and a user agent framework to perform user tracking and enable targeted marketing. All of these features are flexible, in that they can be completely customized and tailored to specific business needs.

How will Actra CommerceXpert products be priced?

Each product in Actra CommerceXpert is individually priced. Customers can buy one or all products as their needs dictate. The pricing model is primarily based on the number of processors utilized. Unlike the traditional pricing schemes for client/server software and third party service bureaus, Actra does not price based on transaction volume, value of goods transacted, or number of users. Pricing will be announced as each new product becomes available.

When will Actra CommerceXpert be available to customers?

Netscape Merchant and Publishing System 1.6 were shipped to market Q1 1997 and are currently being used by over 150 customers. Actra's new ECXpert 1.0, which has been in beta since February, will start commercially shipping in May 1997. The next major release of PublishingXpert will be available in late Q3 1997 and the next major release of MerchantXpert will be available late 1997. SellerXpert will be in beta testing by end of Q2 1997 and commercial shipment is planned for late 1997. BuyerXpert is in development and commercialization is targeted shortly after SellerXpert .

What is the future direction of the Publishing and Merchant Systems?

Actra is looking to accelerate the market penetration of Publishing and Merchant System using leading edge Actra, open standards technology. Publishing and Merchant System were the first generation of internet commerce applications from Netscape. Actra now continues their development, working towards the major releases of MerchantXpert and PublishingXpert. Further enhancements will be focused on feature functionality in the following areas; personalized content delivery, robust merchant and publishing content management capabilities, and flexible back-end order and transaction management services for high volume sights serving large bases of customers. Actra will also continue development in supporting the international market place as well as the Internet Services Providers (ISP) and hosting service markets.

How is Actra architecting its products to provide scalability and superior performance for high-end Internet commerce sites?

Actra's object oriented applications can be distributed over any number of client and server systems for improved performance and scalability. This model effectively utilizes the computing capacity of several machines simultaneously. In order for distributed objects to "talk" to each other, Actra uses Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA). CORBA provides interoperability between applications on different machines in heterogeneous, distributed environments and seamlessly interconnects multiple object systems.

Actra's application products support CORBA's Internet Inter-ORB protocol (IIOP). IIOP is a platform-independent, object messaging protocol that is the open standard for communication between internet and Intranet distributed applications. This design supports concurrent processing. Its multi-threaded architecture enables multiple object requests to be handled by a single process, providing efficient use of server resources and heightened system performance and scalability.

On which operating systems will Actra CommerceXpert be available?

Solaris and Windows NT are Actra's base development operating systems. The May 1997 release of ECXpert 1.0 will be on Solaris in May 1997, with a Windows NT version following within 6-8 weeks. The Merchant and Publishing Systems are currently available on Solaris, HP-UX, IBM-AIX, SGI IRIX, Digital and Siemens Nixdorf as well.

How do I find out more about Actra and its CommerceXpert portfolio?

More information is available on the Actra web sites. The public URL is: Certified Actra channel partners can find more detailed information in the password protected channel web site. You may also send email inquiries to or call 1.408.542.3200.

What is the target market for Actra CommerceXpert?

Leading research firms project Internet commerce transactions to grow exponentially in the next 3 years to hundreds of billions of dollars. The market opportunity for Internet packaged applications is accordingly projected to reach tens of billions of dollars.

Actra CommerceXpert is designed to meet the needs of Fortune 1,000 companies that are implementing inter-enterprise Internet commerce applications solutions with their customers, partners, and suppliers. The Merchant and Publishing Systems are also targeted at middle tier businesses as well. Actra is also helping organizations, such as Internet Service Providers, to develop online trading communities and multi-hosting environments using Actra CommerceXpert as the infrastructure.

How does Actra CommerceXpert fit with Netscape's CrossWare and Extranet standards architecture?

The Actra CommerceXpert product family is based on open, interoperable Internet standards such as those promoted by Netscape in its Extranet standard white paper.

The following illustrates how Actra's product line uses Extranet standards. Other standards are supported as well, such as CORBA, ANSI X12, and EDIFACT.

Extranet Standard ECXpert SellerXpert
MerchantXpert PublishingXpert
LDAP intelligent directory services store and deliver contact information, registration data, certificates, configuration data, and server state information Yes
X.509 v3 digital certificates provide a secure container of validated and digitally signed information Yes
S/MIME message transmission uses certificate-based authentication and encryption to transmit messages between users and applications Yes
EDI INT provides a set of recommendations and guidelines that combine existing EDI standards for transmission of transaction data with the Internet protocol suite Yes

*ECXpert provides EDI enabling of this product.

How does Actra CommerceXpert fit with GEIS' current offerings?

GEIS will be uniquely positioned to expand its current offerings and leverage Actra CommerceXpert as a powerful services infrastructure or customer premise software solution. Actra's products represent an opportunity for GEIS to continue to deliver top-quality solutions that incorporate the latest Internet technology and robust product functionality on a wide variety of customer preferred platforms.

How will Actra CommerceXpert integrate with existing enterprise applications systems?

For Actra's CommerceXpert products to be successful they must integrate as transparently as possible to a company's existing enterprise systems. To achieve this seamless integration Actra's products will provide companies multiple options:

Application Program Interfaces (API's) - For connections to enterprise system for real time data (i.e., inventory availability), Actra will provide API's in the products to support direct connectivity.

Comprehensive data transformation capabilities using Actra's ECXpert. This any to any data transformation will allow companies to map Actra business objects to their enterprise back office systems in proprietary file protocols. The communication using these proprietary formats can be through more traditional batch gateways or the newly evolving more interactive system API's (i.e. SAP's BAPI).

EDI mapping and translation using Actra's ECXpert. Should a company's enterprise system be EDI enabled, ECXpert can quickly map Actra's business objects into the enterprise application's EDI standard documents (i.e., SAP's IDOC) for easy integration.

Object integration. As the enterprise applications migrate toward object based designs in their architecture, Actra with its current object based infrastructure will be able to communicate with the enterprise applications using an object/object server model.

Can Actra CommerceXpert applications be acquired separately?

The core component architecture inherent to all CommerceXpert products enable a corporation to implement modules as business needs dictate. While many of Actra's customers are taking advantage of the synergy available in using CommerceXpert products together, others are installing a single product such as SellerXpert, Publishing System, or ECXpert.

A significant customer advantage is the investment protection that a migration strategy provides. For example, catalog and customer information needs vary, and Actra CommerceXpert is extensible to accommodate additional capabilities without disturbing the existing environment.

Will SellerXpert and BuyerXpert work without ECXpert, and does ECXpert have to be purchased separately?

ECXpert is a critical component of SellerXpert and BuyerXpert, especially for data loading, EDI mapping and translation, and legacy application integration.

Actra CommerceXpert has bundled several third party products. Why aren't these products being built by Actra? Can other products be supported?

Actra's core competency is business domain expertise in EDI, buying, selling, merchandising and publishing on the Internet and in providing an object-oriented, multi-tier architecture for Internet computing. Within these boundaries, we continue to make business-based make or buy decisions to accelerate our development cycle and maintain our focus on business expertise and architecture. Given the open architecture of CommerceXpert, in most cases, standards compliant products can be substituted, however equivalent functions will have to be assessed on a product by product basis.

Can web servers and browsers other than Netscape's be used?

Actra is proud to use Netscape's Internet products, but due to the standards-based nature of Netscape's products, Actra could easily employ other vendors' product as well. However, Actra has tested and certified its products to work with Netscape. For browsers, Actra is not vendor-specific.

How will Actra CommerceXpert be sold?

Netscape and GEIS have personnel dedicated to Actra as our main distribution and support channels. For example, they have dedicated sales teams focused on selling the Actra portfolio. The Netscape and GEIS customer relationships in the Fortune 1000 and Internet commerce market vendors has already provided overwhelming pull for Actra products. Actra will pursue other channels as the market dictates and is already evaluating System Integrator & OEM relationships.

I'm a System Integrator - why should I sell or use Actra CommerceXpert?

All of Actra's CommerceXpert applications are fully integrated open standards based solutions providing a high degree of functionality out of the box. By providing fully integrated flexible applications, System Integrators can focus on their core competency of helping businesses lay in the business and technical infrastructure to implement and maximize the benefits of these new internet commerce applications. By providing System Integrators with a complete product they now have all the tools from one vendor. Actra already has successful Netscape commercial application (NCAPP) partners, both systems integrators and value-added resellers that are currently working with the Merchant and Publishing products.

I'm a Software Vendor - why should I integrate with Actra CommerceXpert?

There is a significant market of Internet software that has already been developed for the commerce market. In areas that the market has already standardized on technology, Actra will be looking to partner with software vendors to enhance Actra product functionality.

I'm an OEM-why should I port or bundle Actra CommerceXpert?

The Internet commerce software market is growing exponentially with a majority of the investment being in Internet application software. CommerceXpert is directed at Fortune 1000 companies and provides OEM's an opportunity to showcase their platform through the use of a leading edge internet commerce application solution. The use of Actra CommerceXpert provides OEM's the ability to offer their clients a complete software and hardware solution for their clients increasing their value add as well as their revenue potential.

What training and consulting services will be available?

All training and consulting services for Actra products will be available through authorized Actra representatives, which constitutes Netscape and GEIS.

How will Actra CommerceXpert products be supported?

First-level support is handled by Netscape or GEIS, who maintain a support group that is dedicated to Actra products who have been very active in the Actra beta program. Second level support is provided to Netscape and GEIS by Actra.