Sterling unveils Web-ready software

Sterling Commerce Inc. introduced today a suite of software products that will allow agencies to conduct electronic commerce over the World Wide Web.

Called GENTRAN Web Suite the product family consists of two products designed to work with the company's GENTRAN:Server which has been shipping for a number of years. The new products include the Web Link module for the GENTRAN:Server and GENTRAN:Smartforms.

Web Link is a client/server software module that consists of four components: the Web Link Plug-in which enables an agency to communicate with its trading partner via the partner's Web browser Web Link EC Forms to allow the trading partner to key in information that is validated against pre-defined business rules Web Link Application Integration Server which connects an agency's enterprise to its trading partners and Web Link Toolkit which allows agencies to create new forms and enhance existing forms.

The module which is now available for Unix and soon for Windows NT offers RSA Data Security Inc. encryption secure registration secure password authentication and other security features.

An agency's trading partner registers at the agency's Web site and then downloads the Web Link Plug-in registers and is sent all the forms and capabilities via the GENTRAN:Server Mailbox. Future updates to forms graphics and page layouts are sent to the trading partner via the Mailbox. Partners can access the Mailbox through their Web browser and can work off-line to print archive and edit those files.

"Users don't need to stay connected to the Internet the whole time. They can store information locally and can send information to the GENTRAN Mailbox in either batch mode or real time " said Roxanne Stanfield Internet product manager for the Interchange Software Group at Sterling Commerce.

Smartforms for Windows NT is a desktop application that uses pre-configured electronic forms and templates to send and receive trading documents. Orders can be placed through the Smartforms engine. The Smartforms interface icons allow users for example to click on the In or Out box to view documents or click on the clock to transmit forms later.

The Web is easy to use and is an inexpensive way of conducting EC said Victoria Huttar director of government markets for the Interchange Software Group at Sterling Commerce. To date agencies are primarily using EC on the Web to place orders from electronic catalogs she said.

"Web-based [electronic data interchange] will enable smaller agencies to get involved in EDI " said Chris Selland research director of the enterprise applications group at the Yankee Group. "EDI is seen as complicated. What Sterling has done is lower the barrier."

The products will be available on Sterling's General Services Administration schedule the National Institutes of Health's Electronic Computer Store under Federal Data Corp. and the Defense Department's I-CASE under Logicon Inc.

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