German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom AG and privately-held East German electronic commerce outfit Intershop Communications Inc have signed a deal which they claim is the largest agreement in the electronic commerce market, worth around $25m over the next five years. Intershop, which moved its headquarters to Burlingame, California at the end of last year, is licensing Deutsche Telekom its Intershop Mall software, which enables up to 300 ‘electronic storefronts’ to be hosted on one server for merchants who can’t afford a dedicated server, and would rather lease the space from an internet service provider. Deutsche Telekom, the largest German internet service provider, with its 1.5 million subscriber T-Online service, will set up its own electronic mall service. The Intershop Mall software runs under Windows NT, Sun Microsystems Inc’s Solaris, Hewlett-Packard Co’s HP-UX, IBM Corp’ AIX and Silicon Graphics Inc’s Irix, and supports the major web servers. It supports various electronic payment standards including CyberCash and OM Transact from Open Market Inc, with support for other security protocols, such as Visa and Mastercard’s CSET and SET, planned in the near future. Intershop Mall ships with an embedded copy of Sybase Inc’s SQL Server 11, and can be managed remotely via a web browser. Intershop was founded by chief executive officer and president Steven Schambach in 1992 and was originally based in Jena, East Germany as a systems integrator for NeXT Computer Inc. It changed direction to design internet applications in 1994. In December 1996 the company launched its first packaged applications for business to business electronic commerce, Intershop online, and at the same time moved its headquarters to California. Intershop predict that the packaged electronic commerce application market will be worth $107m in 1997, with projected growth rates of 300% per year. The company has so far signed up 50 internet service providers for its software, including America Online Inc and EUNet International BV, and has agreements with Hewlett Packard Co, Compagnie des Machines Bull SA and Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG. It claims its only competitor is Microsoft Corp.
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