Sun Microsystems President and COO Ed Zander has announced i-Planet, a product previously known and internally tested at Sun under the name of Sun.net.
Speaking at the Java Enterprise Solutions Symposium (JESS '99) developers conference yesterday, Zander lifted the lid on the much-anticipated Java application that lets workers access their corporate networks and desktops without needing to travel with a portable computer.
I-Planet offers Internet-based remote access for mobile workers and extranets users without the need to install client software other than a browser. For example, an employee traveling on business without a laptop can access corporate networks via any browser-enabled PC or Web device. Once employees have logged on and passed authentication procedures, they can access a host of office-based applications including e-mail and faxes.
The idea behind i-Planet is that "where you are is where you work," Zander said. Some companies may choose to preload smart cards with applications or network access rights, as Sun has already done, having handed out 10,000 such access cards to its own employees, Zander added.
"Eventually, all you will need to carry is a Java smart card," in order to have your desktop with you, Zander said.
The software will also help companies give authorised users secure access to corporate intranets and extranets, just as if they were working inside the office, Sun said in a statement released yesterday. "This works like a virtual private network (VPN)," Zander said. Unlike VPNs and other remote access products, however, i-Planet can work on any end user device without specially-configured software, the Sun statement said.
While existing portal solutions typically are limited to e-mail access or HTML applications and data, i-Planet will let users access any application running on Sun's Solaris, UnixAE, Microsoft Corp. Windows or NT and Novell operating systems, Sun said.
The new software is available as of May 17 and will be sold by Sun and its distributors and resellers. The cost for 100 users will begin at $10,000, falling to $16 per user in large quantities.
Today was Zander's first public appearance as Sun's new president, since his appointment last week.
Sun, based in Palo Alto, California, can be reached at +1-650-960-1300 or at http://www.sun.com/. For more information on i-Planet, please see www.sun.com/iplanet/.
(Jana Sanchez in London contributed to this story.)