I/Net Ports Netscape to AS/400

After a year of planning and development, I/Net Inc. (Kalamazoo, Mich.) has succeeded in porting Netscape Communications Corp.'s enterprise Web server to the AS/400.

"The first 90 percent of the Netscape port was easy, it's the last 10 percent that's hard," says Steve Markee, I/Net president and CEO. Markee notes that AS/400 Brand General Manager Tom Jarosh authorized additional IBM resources to help I/Net get over the final hump.

"I/Net has a multi-year support and distribution agreement with Netscape," Markee says of the deal his company has made to make Netscape server available on the AS/400 as of Aug. 1, 1998.

Netscape server native on the AS/400 will have limited capabilities when it debuts in August. For example, users won't be able to access AS/400 spool files or DB2/400. In the fourth quarter of this year, however, I/Net plans to augment the offering. I/Net is hoping IBM's V4R3 will present a "better delivery platform than what is currently available," Markee says.

Key among these improved features will be V4R3's support for LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) directory services. LDAP is an emerging open, Internet standard that promises to allow any application, running on any platform, to access directory information, like e-mail addresses or public keys, residing on a different platform.

Porting Netscape server to the AS/400 means it can be installed on the midrange server, according to Markee. Though the move seemingly brings competing Netscape and I/Net products under the same roof, Markee makes it clear this "first iteration of Netscape server will not be as close to I/Net's Web Server/400 or Commerce Server/400." While subsequent releases of the Netscape server will likely surpass I/Net's products in capability, I/Net's products will continue to have value, particularly in cases where backward compatibility with older versions of OS/400 is required.

With the addition of Netscape's server to the AS/400 market, users essentially have four Web serving choices for their e-businesses. These include I/Net's Commerce Server/400 and Web Server/400, Lotus Domino, Netscape's server and IBM's HTTP Web serving solution. While Netscape does compete with I/Net's own product on one level, Markee says each product appeals to a specific segment of the e-business market. Plus, V4R2 is the minimum release supported by I/Net's Netscape enterprise server port.

Markee anticipates each of the e-commerce server products will find a niche in the market, just as the company's own products each serve specific needs. The primary difference between I/Net's Commerce Server/400 and Web Server/400 is the former offers encryption technology while the latter does not, he says.

Web Server/400, though limited in capability, is significant because it brought a server product to the AS/400, according to Markee. Web Server/400 was just the beginning when it was introduced to the midrange market, and Netscape server is likely to be an evolutionary product as well.