The tidal wave of companies and remote users seeking Internet access is forcing hub and router vendors to deliver offerings that improve links to the Internet. 3Com and Cisco Systems will announce this week products that ease Internet access and conserve a limited resource Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
With 3Com's OfficeConnect Internet Gateway, information systems managers can let 50 users on a Novell IPX NetWare LAN share one IP address. And it converts IPX traffic to IP, so NetWare users don't need US$100 to US$200 IP software on their PCs. This eliminates the waste of addresses on infrequent Internet users, and it shields the NetWare server from hackers.
For its part, sources say, Cisco will announce this week an IP address conservation and administration capability called Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) for at least one of its Internet products. Before DHCP, network administrators manually assigned a permanent IP address to every user. Now administrators can deploy DHCP to manage a pool of available IP addresses -- akin to a fleet of rental cars -- and automatically lease the addresses to end users as needed.
Once a wide-area network transmission is complete, DHCP automatically frees up the IP address for the next user.
And 3Com this week will become the first major internetworking vendor to avoid steep per-minute Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) usage charges by using channels only when they are really needed. Today, devices at both ends of an ISDN line can't communicate with each other intelligently, and as a result, often call up more B channels than are actually needed. This capability, called Bandwidth Allocation Control Protocol, will be supported in 3Com's next software upgrade for its ISDN routers and in remote access servers, which are available now.