iteskAn ITE is an on-line marketplace that brings together buyers and suppliers within a common vertical. But a truly integrated fully-functional ITE has yet to be created.

Just about every manufacturer, distributor and retailer has been hearing about the emergence of independent trading exchanges (ITEs) as a critical means to conduct day to day business operations. As a J.D. Edwards and Company report, entitled “B2B Collaborative Commerce: The Key Enabler of B2B Marketplace Success” states, “The emergence of trading exchanges across all vertical and horizontal industry sectors marks the beginning of a new digital economy where traditional sales and distribution channels are eliminated and new electronic business processes have evolved via the Internet.”

AMR Research, Inc. in its report on E-Commerce Applications states that it “expects ITEs to play a major role in certain types of industries” and they are a “great example of how the Internet has revolutionized the way businesses interact.”

The definition of ITEs is relatively straightforward. AMR defines them as “on-line marketplaces that bring together buyers and suppliers within a common vertical industry.” However, bringing an ITE into being is far from being a straightforward process. In fact, many contend that while there are a number of fledgling sites out there, a truly integrated, fully functional ITE is yet to be seen.

Don Beck, vice president of sales, B2B Commerce for J.D. Edwards and Company in Denver, Colo., says that while the ITE market is expected to experience exceptional growth, at the same time, it is undergoing enormous shifts as it evolves. “Within the last 12 months alone, there have been major shifts in how they are set up. Whereas the initial emphasis was on public exchanges, we are now seeing a greater emphasis on private exchanges.” He explains that while public exchanges (i.e. the many-to-many model) provide the ideal venue for simple transactions such as bringing buyers and sellers of parts and materials together, many companies have quickly found a need to gain more control of the process through private exchanges (one-to-many). “Forecasts indicated that public exchanges will eventually consolidate from approximately 10,000 by 2002 to within the 500 to 1,000 range, private exchanges will likely account for up to 100 times greater numbers.”

As optimistic as the forecasts are however, the quest for a full-blown trading exchange has yet to overcome the immensity of the integration requirements. “Some exchanges out there today are being held together with wire and duct tape,” says Ted Salter, leader, B2B solution team, Cap Gemini in Toronto. “We’re a good year away from seeing a fully integrated solution.”

There is certainly no shortage of ITE “roadmap” announcements. For example, i2 has partnered with IBM and Ariba to develop an interoperable set of software for e-commerce and collaboration over the internet. While this e-marketplace “blueprint” as they call it has been officially launched, the alliance estimates application development will take until June, 2001. The first phase alone took two and a half months and the collective effort of 300 software developers worldwide.

Salter says that despite the wait, the excitement surrounding ITEs is fuelled by the many benefits that buyers and sellers can hope to achieve. “A trading exchange is more than just using e-commerce to reduce costs. It will allow people to use the supply chain as a strategic weapon. It’s about taking transaction costs out of the process.” Salter contends that over the long run, the ERP vendors will be among the dominant players in the ITE space. “However, some verticals will need the expertise of supply chain specialists like i2. The sophistication of the supply chain will dictate the tool.”

Bob Martin, senior manager, product marketing for Manugistics Group, Inc. in Rockville, Maryland, agrees that “e-Business is still in its infancy, but we can see the opportunity and what it can potentially do for business. The key is having solutions that can provide the communications between partners, as well as put intelligence behind that communication to transact business profitably and reliability.”

Like other vendors in the space, Manugistics has been developing a suite of network collaboration products called ExchangeWORKS designed to power trading exchanges. “As a supply chain vendor we had the intelligence for supply chain functions,” says Martin. “Now we are adding a range of web-based collaborative and transaction tools to provide visibility into the supply chain all the way from the manufacturer to the customer’s door.”

Anyone looking to develop or engage in a trading exchange will tell you that it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Canadian Tire Corp. in Toronto is one company that has been spent three years working its way towards developing its own trading exchange.

“Collaboration is a big step,” says Patrick Sinnott, vice president, supply chain, Canadian Tire. “Right now we’re at the stage where we have to think about whether we want to be a private exchange ourselves or just send better information to our suppliers in a better way. Three years ago we began by providing one-way transfer of information to suppliers. Recently we piloted an interactive application with eight of our suppliers, and we are considering rolling it out to a broader base. We know there are huge wins associated with collaboration.”

Martin notes that in addition to whatever technology barriers may exist, there are also some cultural issues to overcome, including the willingness to trade information in an open forum. At the same time however, “if you don’t participate in a private or public exchange you may lose business over the long term.”

One of the key early technology barriers was the failure of high powered servers to process the sheer transaction volume. The Exchanges were originally powered by Dell PowerEdge server arrays, which were having difficulties because the Seagate RAID setups kept encountering parity issues. But Hard Drive Recovery Group, an expert in recovering PowerEdge RAID drives, volunteered to customize a RAID 50 array system which would lower › Continue reading…

arflThorny engineering problem got you down? Just put Dr. Frankenstein on the case. He’s not the only one creating New Life Forms

Some programmers die and go to heaven. Others go to hell. Bruce Damer went to purgatory — voluntarily.

Until recently, the 33-year-old Canadian worked for a California software company whose claim to fame was an application that printed much of the world’s junk mail. He quit a few months ago to develop software that will sort a user’s E-mail and toss out the crap.

Egad, he’s got a lot to atone for, you might say. And you can bet it won’t be easy. He has to hatch intelligent, artificially alive objects to make it work.

Artificial whaaaat?

Life, he calls it.

Damer may be the first programmer to renounce his job in pursuit of the artificial life grail, but he’s not alone in …

consraAlthough conferencing systems such as Lotus Development Corp.’s Notes or Collabra Software Inc.’s Collabra Share can enhance group productivity by providing a mechanism for group brainstorming and decision-making, such programs are tricky to manage.

Administering a conferencing system can be complex and time-consuming; it requires many of the same tasks found in maintaining conventional database-transaction systems. For instance, managers must make sure that discussion information is stored properly, is archived as part of a routine backup process, and is distributed to remote offices and workgroups.

As with other groupware applications, conferencing systems are still in the early stages of evolution — as are the tools used to administer them. In fact, most conferencing systems need to branch out and, instead of utilities that cover a single server, offer a more integrated, centralized management system for distributed conferencing.

The tools administrators use to manage conferencing systems …

tecquipA telecommuter used to be defined as someone who was associated with an office but not “part” of it. But the growth of computer and communications power has meant that telecommuters can be nearly the same as office dwellers.

Although the technology is still in the early stages of evolution, telecommuting now offers users a range of choices in making their connections with colleagues, customers, and other business contacts.

The basic choice faced by telecommuters is how thoroughly they wish to be connected to the office. Are simple data communications enough? Does the telecommuter need to see people or products at another site? Does he or she have to collaborate on a project with others? Does the collaboration have to be conducted in real-time, or can communications be delayed?

Telecommuters must also decide where they want to connect from. Given sufficient battery life and a …

csvrClient/server deployment requires one piece of hardware you probably won’t find in the computer store: a new hat rack.

The challenges of setting strategic directions and policies, establishing standard platforms, and rolling out applications that share data have caused many companies to redeploy their information technology staffs.

What has emerged in the largest companies is a collaborative environment with some centralized control. Think of it not as a glass house, but a glass condominium. Corporate IT can’t afford to be an isolated tower of power.

At Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, for example, CIO Craig Goldman leads a “gang of 60” technologists in establishing global computing standards. Each technologist represents a business unit that budgets for, implements, and supports initiatives based on the standards.

The team approach eliminates an ivory tower. “They get in the boat and row with me,” said Goldman of his …

pwddWhen having a problem with Drobo disk, you have to make it sure that you are approaching the best computer technician who can help you fix this concern. Basically, the Drobo disk is a helpful device that helps store your files and protect it from hard drive crash. It is considered to be a revolutionary product that can safely keep your files no matter what will happen. However, there are always instances where you encounter a problem with Drobo disk. Even if it has a promising RAID technology, there is always a tendency that you will face a technical issue with Drobo. This is the reason why you have to know where to seek help when this exists.

First, make it sure that you ask recommendations from anyone who knows an expert computer technician. Do not just avail the services of a technician that you …

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olmWith everyone roaring onto the Internet lately, there’s increasing pressure on corporate network administrators to bring their companies’ services on-line as well.

Now there’s help for managers facing those demands but who are unfamiliar with the Internet: Citrix Systems Inc.’s newly released TCP/IP for WinView, an option for use with the firm’s WinView for Networks 2.3 applications server software.

The TCP/IP for WinView option enables administrators to provide customized Internet applications or services directly, instead of relying on traditional technologies such as World-Wide Web, WAIS, or Gopher servers.

Because the TCP/IP for WinView option works with current Windows applications, administrators do not need a strong understanding of the Internet or of various Internet browsing tools to get their companies’ services on-line.

In addition, TCP/IP for WinView lets network administrators provide Internet connectivity to users who lack TCP/IP services on their workstations.

With TCP/IP for WinView, …

sdspThe computer industry continually rushes toward tomorrow’s great technological advance, leaving a wake strewn with yesterday’s hardware. Yet unlike operating-system developers, hardware vendors focus little on making their products backward-compatible.

The result: Chief financial officers wind up amortizing equipment over five years, even though it’s likely rendered extinct in two.

Bucking this trend toward accelerated obsolescence, Storage Dimensions Inc. released a high-capacity RAID (Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks) subsystem with a twist. Not only does the LANStor SuperFlex system combine high reliability via dual-redundant power supplies, triple fans, and a sophisticated cableless SCSI backplane, it does so in a chassis that accepts disk modules from the company’s earliest ReFlex models.

With the hard drives’ mean time between failure exceeding 500,000 hours (more than 57 years), the SuperFlex offers investment protection that should help the bean counters rest easier. Although it is certainly not the least …

inttepyComputer-telephony integration is a major step toward blending all of your company’s office equipment into an integrated computing environment. Although efforts like Microsoft At Work will soon enable applications to control office equipment such as facsimile and copy machines, CTI is coming from a wide range of vendors from both the computer and telecommunications industries.

CTI automatically connects a company’s telephone traffic with its databases and makes it easier for employees to access advanced features found in modern telephones. CTI can also streamline the way many work with their telephones by integrating voice, fax, and text files; currently, this is being accomplished by connecting PBXs with LANs.

Growing interest

The barriers to CTI’s implementation are high cost and a lack of applications — although more are starting to appear. The cost of CTI is coming down as telecommunications companies begin using standard APIs, which in …

Teaching Old IT Admins New Tricks

oitaThese new systems would be perfect, if it weren’t for those damn users.”

The statement made me wince. But Jerry is a frustrated glass-house IT guy. As the VP of IT, he must incorporate current technology offerings to maximize competitiveness. It’s not only the users giving Jerry fits, though, it’s the flexibility of the client/server approach.

In the past, corporate approval came with a cost/benefit analysis. Jerry often backed into a series of cost-saving numbers to win support. Once signed off, he gathered information from the planned users and then, without their meddling, built them a solution. No user reviews. No requirements changed. No problems.

With client/server, though, his approach isn’t working. Things change too fast. Today’s solution can’t be quantified in the traditional cost/benefit analysis. The big wins aren’t just cost savings but better ways to get the results. Jerry was looking for insight …

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