Hewlett Packard is set to launch the key software technology behind its e-services strategy - middleware that links applications to all operating systems through the internet.
Fremont provides a platform-independent way of creating and connecting services via the Net, without any user intervention.
Greg Kleiman, marketing manager for Fremont technology at HP, described the software as 'an open, secure internet services environment'.
Fremont sits above the operating system level to act as a mediator with Net services. It can use technologies, including Java, XML, Corba, Com, Ldap, http and public key infrastructure software, to create the services or link to them.
An example of how Fremont works would be where a user attempts to access email through a mobile phone. Fremont uses services to carry out security, billing and connectivity, sending an agent over the internet to find a third party service to read out the email to the user. The phone user would not see any of this, only that they have immediate access to email whatever the device.
Initial application areas HP will invest in are likely to be health monitoring, e-commerce services, procurement management and travel booking. But the vendor said other companies will soon develop components and services to provide various services online.
Rajiv Gupta, open services manager at HP, claimed that when a company wanted to add an extra service to its internet site, Fremont would enable it to send an agent out to locate the required service from a third party.
Equally, developers would be free to create applications using Fremont's SCDK - similar to a software development kit - which can be used on any platform.
'Fremont means users can create internet businesses on the fly ... unlike organisations such as Amazon that have simply cobbled together systems over time,' he said, adding that this would level the playing field for small companies to start internet businesses without huge investment in time and infrastructure.
The first markets for Fremont - which is due out in May - will be ISPs and telcos. Both sectors want to sell value added services on top of their existing infrastructure.
HP would not say whether there were any financial requirements for companies to use and develop applications for the Fremont platform, but Kleiman insisted the vendor wanted it to be 'freely and widely available'.
Gupta said HP would make money from the component services that would work off the Fremont platform. These include applications such as management, storage, billing, security and workflow that operate behind the scenes of the services being used.
HP has made it clear over the past month that its strategy is to look for opportunities to make money based on transaction fees, rather than system sales. In mid-May, the company will release the full details of the strategy, plus a host of partner ISPs, telcos, ISVs and customers.
Jane Doorly, vice president at Gartner Group, predicts that by 2003, e-brokers and content aggregators will be the primary internet channel for users, while by 2008, 25 per cent of consumer spending and 70 per cent of business-to-business commerce will involve the internet.
'We are approaching a new era of smart phones and smart cars, which requires a complete change in business dynamics, not just services,' she added.
Meanwhile, HP last week backed Microsoft's claims that the PC industry is not dead, as the row concerning IBM chairman Lou Gerstner's comments took hold on the industry (PC Dealer, 21 April).
While IBM had claimed that PC era was over when it showed a loss of nearly $1 billion for its personal systems division, HP maintained that it would achieve its annual growth targets.
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