Web trading hub moves a step closer to reality
By Jim Kerstetter, PC Week Online
March 29, 1999 9:00 AM ET
Commerce One Inc. has laid the foundation for a major
business-to-business Web trading hub, long the Holy Grail of online
The Walnut Creek, Calif., developer this week will unveil MarketSite
3.0, procurement software designed to facilitate a variety of
relationships and transactions for companies doing business on the
MarketSite promises to significantly extend the reach of online
merchants and the buying options of customers. Via the portal site,
called MarketSite.net, buyers will be able to directly link to office
supply companies such as Office Depot Inc. or vertical trading sites
such as Grainger.com, a manufacturing hub.
If successful, MarketSite could become the launch pad for a series of
Web sites that link any corporation--not just vertical industries
such as steel and health care--into a business-to-business
"A larger number of our customers are online with us today," said
Monica Luechtfeld, vice president of marketing for Office Depot's
Business Services Division, in Delray Beach, Fla. "But for them to
realize the payoff of automating and using technology to purchase
through the Web, they must do it with more vendors and across more of
their divisions, and do it globally."
Commerce One's ambitious project is building off what some observers
considered an Achilles' heel of its buy-side commerce software.
Commerce One previously used MarketSite as a central repository of
product data for its software users. The idea was to take the burden
of constant catalog updates out of the hands of users. But the
downside was complexity and a lack of control by the customer.
The new iteration of MarketSite removes much of that complexity.
Using a free Extensible Markup Language tool called the XML Commerce
Connector, all companies--not just those that are using Commerce One
software--will be able to tie their buying applications into the
The XML tool will enable any buy-side application to be linked to
MarketSite. The same holds for vertical sites. The only cost for a
purchasing organization to tie into MarketSite is for XML integration
For suppliers, Commerce One will charge a flat fee, ranging from 25
cents to $2 per transaction, and will provide hosting services so
businesses don't have to install the purchasing software on their
own. Several Internet service providers, including MCI WorldCom Inc.,
British Telecom and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., will host
Commerce One is not alone in offering business-to-business electronic
commerce sites for its customers. Ariba Inc. and Intelisys Electronic
Commerce LLC, for example, launched Ariba.com and Intelisys.com,
respectively, within the last month. Both sites, at least
technically, could be linked to MarketSite via XML.
Commerce One officials promise to learn from the mistakes of past
failed attempts at business-to-business sites. "We've learned our
lessons from people like Industry.Net," said Chuck Donchess, vice
president of marketing and business development at Commerce One. One
lesson: Build a sound technological foundation before focusing on the
Industry.Net learned its lessons the hard way. It declared bankruptcy
more than two years ago under the leadership of former Lotus
Development Corp. CEO Jim Manzi before being purchased by Information
Handling Services Inc., of Boulder, Colo.
Today, Industry.Net publishes catalogs and lines up distributors for
more than 20,000 manufacturers in the engineering community.
For all of these companies--Commerce One, Ariba, Intelisys and
Industry.Net--the business-to-business trading model is the next
frontier. If merchants want to succeed at business commerce, they
will have to join large trading communities that make integration
"It's not so hard to pick the top five or so companies to [trade]
with," said David Alschuler, an analyst at Aberdeen Group, in Boston.
"But to get 100 or 200 customers in line is an incredibly big and
Commerce One MarketSite 3.0 Open Marketplace Platform is the next
generation marketplace platform that provides an open, low cost
solution for market makers (e.g., teleco's, aggregators, and
distributors) to deploy open, interoperable marketplaces.
MarketSite 3.0 is comprised of software and commerce services that
enable trading partners to seamlessly exchange business information
and provide access to value-added services that are key to
efficiently conducting commerce, including a cost effective way to
manage supplier catalog content.
Commerce One MarketSite.net, B to B Marketplace Portal, is the first
marketplace built on Commerce One MarketSite 3.0 Open Marketplace
Platform. It is an open business-to-business marketplace portal for
electronic procurement providing unprecedented commerce services and
the ability to interoperate with numerous buying and selling
Commerce One is working with BT to establish a marketplace in the
U.K. as well as other market makers to establish geographical and
vertical marketplaces (see press releases British Telecommunications
and Commerce One in E-Business Licensing Deal and Commerce One
Collaborates with NTT to Deliver Open Electronic Commerce Portal for
Japanese Market). Each marketplace that is developed on MarketSite
will interoperate with MarketSite.net to form the largest open
marketplace in the world, allowing users anywhere to trade with
partners connected to any marketplace and access the services offered
through each marketplace.
Distributed Marketplace Architecture
To enable marketplace-to-marketplace integration, MarketSite 3.0
deploys a unique feature, Distributed Marketplace Architecture (DMA).
DMA is an open XML e-commerce architecture which enables marketplaces
to integrate in the same manner trading partners integrate into a
marketplace. DMA provides distributed services to facilitate the
interoperability of marketplaces based on a published BID (Business
Interface Definition), which is an XML document interface into the
Non-MarketSite 3.0 based marketplaces can integrate using the
MarketSite XML Commerce Connector and by defining the semantics of
how the marketplace will conduct commerce. MarketSite 3.0 deploys an
integration service for the translation and conversion between data
XML Content Pipeline
The MarketSite XML Content Pipeline represents the latest technology
in providing a comprehensive set of tools to manage the collection
and publishing of catalog content. The XML Content Pipeline can be
hosted or distributed and provides complete flexibility in the
content management cycle for the marketplace manager or trading
partner utilizing the tools.
The XML Content Pipeline provides an extensible pipeline process for
the collection and publishing of content. Once the XML Content
Pipeline has processed catalog content, the catalog can be published
to the marketplace and made available to buyers.
MarketSite 3.0 Features
* Open - Multiple buying and selling applications
* Breakthrough XML technology for interoperability with
existing trading communities and applications
* Managed content for buyers and suppliers
* Automated transaction support
* Business Services - Integrated commerce capabilities from
multiple providers (freight, tax and payment)
* Hosted Applications for buyers and sellers at any stage of
electronic commerce readiness
Deployment and Connectivity Specifications
MarketSite 3.0 Open Marketplace Platform supports standard
Microsoft/Intel computing environments. All communications are
facilitated through industry standard protocols including TCP/IP,
HTTP, and ODBC.