HP guns for e-commerce

Hewlett-Packard (HP) today threw its hat into the e-commerce ring, unveiling a new software technology and global organisation.

HP's Changengine software sits on top of applications and allows businesses to re-engineer for e-commerce. The new division is the Electronic Business Software Organisation and will be able to call on some 2,500 HP software engineers.

HP will embed Changengine in its AdminFlow software and add it to a product portfolio that also includes OpenMail, SmartContact, and VirtualVault, as well as a set of software frameworks covering security and process change management. Frameworks can also be custom-built for customers.

The firm is targeting companies who wish to re-work internal processes, customer service and sales and inventory processes.

HP has quietly been building up to its e-commerce entry with a series of purchases in the last couple of years including the credit verification firm Verifone, Manage X from Nu View, Prolin and Symantec's Networking Business Unit.

Rob Biggin, European marketing manager for software and services said HP intended its technology to be multi-platform and able to work with companies' existing IT infrastructures. "Changengine lets you keep legacy systems and change business rules," he said. Initially only based on Windows NT, HP will move to cover Sun and some other Unix platforms.

Biggin said he believes a key advantage over old rival IBM, which is also targeting e-commerce head on, is its good reputation with the channel.

"We've demonstrated a commitment to the reseller channels and ISVs. We're a good partner and we've always planned this to be channel-enabled. I don't think that's the case with IBM."

Biggin said he expects sales to leading financial institutions and partnerships with many software vendors who choose to use HP's security model.

HP already has a letter of agreement with Microsoft and Cisco that it hopes will translate into its technology being used as an Internet gateway security standard. Netscape said it will bundle HP AdminFlow with its SuiteSpot server products, while PeopleSoft announced support.