IBM Corp has taken some of its experiences in web hosting large corporations and come up with a product and services offering aimed at small-to-medium sized businesses who don’t yet have a presence on the web. IBM’s Homepage Creator product enables companies to go through the whole process of getting a site, from creating the […]
IBM Corp has taken some of its experiences in web hosting large corporations and come up with a product and services offering aimed at small-to-medium sized businesses who don’t yet have a presence on the web. IBM’s Homepage Creator product enables companies to go through the whole process of getting a site, from creating the site, putting it on a server, registering a domain name, registering it with the various search engines, through to online transactions and electronic payments. IBM has had a few pilots of the service out, but this is the first full package, offering five levels of service from companies who just want five pages to signal that they exist on the web, through those who want more than 50, plus a large catalog, 30 Mb of hosting space and real-time credit card transactions. IBM has written a set of Java applications such as text interfaces, basic catalogs and so on that the user can download and add to their site as appropriate. Java 1.1 was chosen, says Edward Jenny, IBM’s web solutions manager within its global web solutions unit, because it is easy to add functions to the applications in the future in the form of applets, and because of its cross-platform capabilities. Through a relationship with Automated Transaction Services in California, IBM can offer payment processing through ATS’s existing bank relationships. It can also register sites with 23 search engines and the whole lot is hosted on the IBM Global Network. In addition to the monthly fees, there are transaction fees that vary depending on the type and frequency of transactions. It employs Secure Socket Layer (SSL) security and work is afoot to incorporate the company’s Net.Commerce technology for the heavier users that will make it compliant with the Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) credit card transaction standard. That should be ready by the year-end. This is the first time IBM has offered such services in Europe and it says it is ready to handle the varying currencies and tax systems. Jenny says IBM will offer this service through direct marketing as well as through sponsored deals. It currently has one such deal with United Parcel Service, whereby UPS takes a percentage of transaction fees for companies to which it sells the service. It will also look for tie-ins with other companies servicing small- and medium-sized businesses, such as insurance agents. It could also sell the service through OEM deals with banks, that locked in their services at the back-end and re-branded the IBM technology. The basic Homepage Creator service costs $25 per month, with a $25 set-up charge, for five pages, 12 catalog items, 3Mb if disk space, rising through the Platinum service, which costs $200 a month, with a $150 set-up charge for 50 plus pages, 500 catalog items, 30Mb of space, and credit card processing, among other things.