Dell Bundles Back-Office Links To Its Site



Expanding its ties to customers via the Web, Dell Computer said Tuesday that it will bundle two new products with its servers aimed at business clients that buy Dell products online and want to integrate online transactions with their back-office systems.

First, Dell is bundling package-integration software from business-to-business toolmaker webMethods Inc. with its own PowerEdge servers. The webMethods Partner Server, as the product will be sold, translates and routes data between back-office systems, providing a direct link to Dell's commerce site. Dell also is including E-procurement applications as an option in the bundle.

The package starts at $10,000 for the basic-integration bundle, and $50,000 for the bundle that includes E-procurement. While the product provides Internet-based integration to Dell, integration to other trading partners requires more cash. WebMethods charges $250,000 to $300,000 to use its software to build links with companies other than Dell. "We'll get you up and integrated with Dell," says Tom Fountain, director of B-to-B integration at Dell. It remains to be seen, however, if customers will chose Dell as their B-to-B starting point.

The bundle is one of several E-commerce initiatives at Dell, including Dell Marketplace, a Web store under development that will give small businesses a direct channel to Dell; Dell.com, the company's site for consumers; and Dell's "premiere pages," an extranet for corporate clients.

Dell launched its premiere pages in 1996 to give corporate clients a custom view of their accounts online and let them order directly from Dell via the Web with their unique pricing and product selection. Today, 58,000 Dell customers use premiere pages, but few have built electronic links between Dell and their own inventory, accounting, and purchasing systems.

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