Eye on the Competition

Up-to-the-minute news on Sun's rivals

May  1998
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HP's e-commerce strategy promises quality of service

San Francisco (May 11, 1998) -- Hewlett-Packard Co. today unveiled a new electronic commerce strategy focused on enabling businesses to allocate system resources to their most important customers and applications as a way of making their Web sites more user-friendly.

Outlining HP's so-called Web Quality of Service (QoS) strategy at a press conference here, HP executives said Internet users demand a predictable level of service from Web sites before they will be prepared to take the plunge into e-commerce.

"In order to provide a good customer experience you've got to have a predictable service," said Nigel Ball, general manager of HP's Internet and Applications Systems Division.

Web QoS consists of hardware, middleware, and software products that allow companies and service providers to prioritize functions like online banking and sales ahead of activities like Web browsing during times of peak activity, Ball said.

The technologies also allow businesses to identify their most important customers -- by using cookies, IP addresses, and other means -- and give those users priority access to server resources. Customers left waiting in a queue will have the consolation of an on-screen message that informs them how long they will be waiting to get access to a site, officials said.

The first product based on the Web QoS technologies will be HP ServiceControl, which HP plans to ship June 1 for its HP 9000 Enterprise servers and HP-UX Unix operating system. The product includes Admission Control, a policy-based system for prioritizing and managing the workload on a server; and Persistant Connections, designed to prevent server overload by limiting access to high priority users, HP said.

On August 1, the company plans to offer a complete server platform -- called HP Domain Commerce -- which will include HP ServiceControl bundled with a handful of the most essential e-commerce tools and applications, officials said.

They include a tool for managing e-commerce applications centrally from a Web browser; payment software from HP's wholly owned subsidiary, Verifone, and HP's OpenPix software for viewing, sharing, and printing high-bandwidth images over the Internet.

HP Domain Commerce has been designed to work well with electronic applications from partners BroadVision Inc., iCat Corp., Intershop Communications Inc., and Open Market Inc., who joined HP executives at the event today to announce support for its strategy.

HP's initial QoS offerings were developed for its own HP-UX version of Unix. The company plans to port HP Domain Commerce to Windows NT, and possibly to other versions of Unix in the future, although no concrete plans for other Unix systems have been made, Ball said.

HP Service Control is priced at US$800 per CPU, while HP Domain Commerce will cost $3,995, HP said.

HP also announced ongoing work with Cisco Systems Inc. to enhance its QoS offerings. HP ServiceControl includes a technology that improves load balancing using Cisco's LocalDirector, and the companies are working together to more tightly integrate Cisco's CiscoAssure Policy Networking with HP's QoS technologies, Cisco officials said.

HP hopes its Web QOS strategy will enable it to compete better against competitor system vendors IBM Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc., Ball said. In one of several jibes against IBM, Bell criticized the company for trying to decrease customer wait times by "throwing more hardware at the problem," rather than making better use of available resources.

HP's QoS will receive a public try-out over the next few months during the 1998 World Cup football tournament. HP is the IT hardware and maintenance supplier for the event, and a component of QoS that gives priority to users making online transactions will be used on the World Cup's online store, officials said.

--James Niccolai, IDG News Service


IBM launches network security software

Orlando (May 5, 1998) -- At the IBM Technical Interchange developer's conference here today, the company debuted a network security software package targeted at corporate intranets and extranets.

"The number one issue that we hear from customers time and time again as they embark on e-business, whether it's an IBM survey, or an industry survey is security," said Al Zollar, general manager of IBM eNetwork Software at a press briefing.

The eNetwork Software security and directory integration package is designed to allow users, partners, clients, and suppliers to safely transact business over the World Wide Web. Pricing information was not released, but most of the product line is available now and includes:

--Nancy Weil, IDG News Service


SCO spins out Tarantella upgrade

Boston (April 28, 1998) -- Santa Cruz Operation Inc. (SCO) today released an upgrade to Tarantella, its application broker for network computing aimed at large enterprises.

Tarantella allows users to access applications from a Java technology-enabled client or Windows PC without installing any software on the device.

Tarantella 1.1 can manage as many as 50 servers from a single point as part of a Tarantella Array. The servers do not need to be at the same location physically, but must recognize each other, and user sessions can run across multiple servers. The Array allows system administrators to perform tasks such as adding a new or updated application, which becomes available to users the next time they log in, according to SCO.

The application supports up to 10,000 users, to whom it can replicate a new application across multiple servers in less than one minute.

SCO has added two features to Tarantella to increase performance, especially over low-bandwidth connections. Tarantella 1.1 has an intelligent cache for Java classes on client systems, which decreases the time it takes to log in to Tarantella and launch applications on LANs by up to 78 percent, the company said.

The middleware also has a native client to stabilize Java implementation for Windows 3.11. Tarantella automatically determines whether a Java Virtual Machine has been installed, and if one has not, it provides a native client for installation.

The company is also offering Cleo TN3270E, from Interface Systems Inc., an optional software package for accessing mainframe applications.

Version 1.1 has also added to Tarantella's host platforms, adding ported versions for IBM AIX and HP-UX. It already has ports for SCO Unixware, UnixWare 7, and Solaris.

Tarantella 1.1 will be priced at $395 per user, and the Cleo software will sell for $195 per user. Both products will be available May 11.

--Kathleen Ohlson, IDG News Service


HP licenses HP-UX to Hitachi, NEC, and Stratus

Boston (April 28, 1998) -- Hitachi Ltd., NEC Corp., and Stratus Computer Inc. today announced they have licensed Hewlett-Packard Co.'s version of the Unix operating system and will be ready to launch HP-UX systems when Intel Corp. releases its 64-bit Merced processor next year.

The agreement with Hitachi was reported by IDG News Service two weeks ago when company officials confirmed the move and said the shift to HP-UX would be complete by the time Intel ships its IA-64 chip, code named Merced.

Because Intel has not announced a release date, representatives of HP, Hitachi, NEC, and Stratus said they cannot say when they will release hardware to run on Merced, but that the launch of new machines will take place soon after Merced hits the market.

HP will ship the first board-upgradeable server platform for Merced, Bill Russell, HP vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Systems Group, said at a press conference today.

"A simple board swap will allow (customers) to upgrade to IA-64," he said.

HP has had partnerships with the other three companies involved in today's announcement, which officials said is being viewed as a renewed commitment to HP and its operating system. For instance, Hitachi sells HI-UX, its Unix version based on HP-UX, in Japan.

The companies also are collaborating with HP on middleware for enterprise systems.

Fujitsu Ltd. and Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG are among major computer manufacturers also planning Unix-based Merced systems, but with HP competitor Sun Microsystems Inc. and its Solaris OS.

--Nancy Weil, IDG News Service


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