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Joint Venture Awarded $5 Million To Develop Next-generation Infrastructure for Electronic Commerce


For Release on 10/8/97, 9 AM, EDT


Robert Glushko, CNgroup
glushko@cngroup.com (650) 858-4369

Jay M. Tenenbaum, CommerceNet
jmt@commerce.net (650) 858-1930 x 210

Randy Whiting, CommerceNet
rcw@commerce.net (650) 858-1930 x 203

Narinder Singh, Tesserae Information Systems
singh@tesserae.com (650) 855-8815

Moses Ma, BusinessBots
moses@i-game.com(415) 782-6067

Palo Alto, CA (October 8, 1997)

CommerceNet and three Silicon Valley startups -- CNgroup, Tesserae Information Systems, and BusinessBots -- have received a $5 Million award from the US Department of Commerce's Advanced Technology Program (ATP) to develop an open component-based architecture for Internet commerce. The four companies will extend and test CommerceNet's eCo System, an object-oriented interoperability framework in which all services and resources on the Web are treated as business objects that can be combined in novel ways to build virtual companies, markets, and trading communities. Based on market analyses by Forrester and IDC, CommerceNet projects a $1 Billion market for eCo-enabled Internet commerce building blocks and tools by the year 2000. The Internet commerce transactions enabled by these components could exceed $100 Billion by then.

"Digital anarchy is threatening the explosive growth of Internet commerce", warns Jay M. Tenenbaum, CommerceNet's founder and Chairman. "Markets will be closed if they are built on proprietary ecommerce software and applications that cannot communicate or interoperate. Websites are difficult to locate and incomprehensible to software agents because the Web lacks standards for describing catalogs and content."

According to Robert Glushko, manager of the ATP-funded joint venture and a CNgroup VP, "Web protocols and formats should not stand in the way of doing business. Our goal with eCo System is to make Web sites and services self-descriptive or 'smart enough' to function as 'plug and play' components that all work together. ECo will enable innovative commerce services that use software agents to compare, aggregate, integrate, and translate data in Web documents, databases, and applications."

"The potential for instant partnering enabled by eCo could spark an explosion of entrepreneurial activity rivaling that of the Web itself," adds Tenenbaum. Ira S. Machefsky, Vice President of Giga Information Group, further states that "the ambitions of this project are no less than 'to do for electronic commerce what Java has done for application development': the creation of an 'offer once, buy anywhere' electronic commerce platform."

eCo frameworks will utilize emerging industry standards such as XML, Java Beans, and CORBA. eCo frameworks will be designed to plug directly into major Internet commerce platforms, and eCo components will be guaranteed to interoperate with all widely deployed ecommerce applications. Specifically included are traditional EDI systems as well as systems that may be developed under other ecommerce frameworks such as OBI (Open Buying on the Internet), OMG's Common Business Objects, and Microsoft's Value Chain Initiative.

CommerceNet will work with the industry to understand the opportunities afforded by the eCo System and engage market leaders in its design and widespread deployment. "Without interoperation there can be no commerce", says Randy Whiting, CommerceNet Consortium's President and CEO. "The objective of eCo is to complement our members' ecommerce platforms, enabling them to communicate with one another, thus expanding the market for all." CommerceNet will encourage its members to package their eCommerce applications and services as eCo System-compliant objects.

A white paper with more information about the technical objectives and approaches of this project will be available from the joint venture and each of the member companies during the first week of November, 1997.

The Members of the Joint Venture

CommerceNet, www.commerce.net, is the largest and most diverse Internet commerce association, with over 500 member companies worldwide, representing both technology vendors and end-users from many industries. It is ideally suited for a facilitator's role in the ATP joint venture. CommerceNet members with related applications will form task forces to create eCo frameworks for their industries. Companies are invited to join CommerceNet and participate in the eCo initiative by contacting Beth Morrow at (650) 858-1930, ext. 208.

CNgroup, www.cngroup.com, an R&D organization spun off from CommerceNet in January 1997, has overall project management responsibility for the ATP joint venture. It will coordinate the overall design and integration of the eCo system framework and supply reference implementations of key elements such as component registries and runtime servers. CNgroup will also provide expertise in the use of XML in eCo to describe Web services and catalogs and the messages exchanged by business objects.

Tesserae Information Systems, www.tesserae.com, founded by Stanford University researchers Narinder Singh and Don Geddis, develops technology for integrating diverse information resources on the net. Tesserae will provide the Joint Venture with advanced rule-based engines for mapping, translating and integrating heterogeneous data from multiple commerce sites.

BusinessBots creates advanced ecommerce services and applications for systems involving multiple, interacting software agents. The company holds key patents in the optimization of automated negotiations and business processes in multiagent systems. Founded by legendary computer game designer Moses Ma, BusinessBots has attracted top scientists in game-theory,mathematics, risk management and human interface design. The company is not yet discussing its product plans. For more information contact Melody Kean Haller, Antenna Group, melody@antennapr.com, (415) 896-1800.

About ATP

Begun in 1990, the Advanced Technology Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (www.atp.nist.gov) invests directly in the nation's economic growth. The ATP concentrates on promising, but high-risk, enabling technologies that can form the basis for new and improved products, manufacturing processes, and services.