January 26, 1998 5:25 PM PST

Differential debuts extranet suite

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Tiny Differential today announced a suite of software called Extranet Creator to set up and manage extranets, another offering for companies that want to link to their suppliers and customers over the Net.

Extranet Creator bundles electronic data interchange (EDI) and collaborative software in a rules-based e-commerce framework. EDI involves forms-based communication between computers, generally over secure private networks, without human intervention.

Differential, which has 11 employees and contractors, also updated its first product, FileDrive software, to version 1.5. An optional part of the Extranet Creator suite, FileDrive securely and reliably transfers very large files over the Internet, including 3D graphics, software updates, loan applications, insurance information, and standard business forms such as purchase orders, invoices, and bills of lading.

Differential is positioning its suite as a cheaper, more flexible alternative to EDI and collaborative software, targeting e-commerce. Extranet Creator tools are designed to create a secure environment for exchanging critical data with business partners, customers, and suppliers over the Internet.

"Extranet Creator is providing a unique solution to support business relations over the Internet and form an electronic business community," said David Jevans, Differential's president and founder.

It exchanges data according to each partner's business rules and tracks transactions for auditing purposes. By paralleling a company's policies and reporting hierarchies, account management and access permissions can be delegated to departments, managers, and employees.

The software also converts files to appropriate formats at the server (for example, converting Postscript files to Acrobat PDF) and facilitates billing to departments or individual users.

Asset Factory, recently acquired by Newtek, has used the FileDrive software for its online service to submit large 3D animation data files for film-quality rendering.

Differential named Sterling Commerce, TumbleWeed, and EnCommerce as its chief competitors.

The Extranet Creator client-server software is priced at around $40,000 per processor, with clients priced from $100 per user, before volume discounts. The software runs on most Unix platforms, and a Windows NT version is in the works. The client software runs on Unix, Windows 95, Windows NT, and Macintosh.

The product will be unveiled at Spring Internet World '98 in March. The company has been funded by Softbank Holdings as well as management and private investors.

 

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