Digital aims for intranets with AltaVista

Digital has detailed plans for bringing its AltaVista search-engine technology to corporate intranets in a beta program this quarter.

Digital has detailed plans for bringing its AltaVista search-engine technology to corporate intranets in a beta program this quarter.

Digital is planning three versions of AltaVista, marketed under the name AltaVista Search Private Extensions. These will be aimed at PCs, workgroups and enterprise servers in a bid to capitalise on Digital's well-received Internet search-engine technology.

A personal version of AltaVista, called My Computer PX, will let users search for any files on their desktops, as well as file systems on their local networks. Initially, this program will allow users to search for files stored in Microsoft's Exchange and Office and Qualcomm's Eudora, and it will be packaged as either a browser plug-in or Java applet.

"Right now, it's easier to search the Internet than your desktop," says James Ishikawa, business manager for Digital's Internet business group. "We'd like to bring the capabilities of AltaVista to end-users."

For workgroups, Digital will offer Workgroup PX. It will reside on a Web server hosted on Windows NT and will index HTML, text and Office applications.

This indexing capability is key to Digital's offering. AltaVista's speed is derived from its capability to find files by searching indexes, not entire directories, Ishikawa says.

For the enterprise, Digital will offer Intranet PX, which runs on Digital Unix. This offering can search terabytes of data. IS managers can extend the data types it supports using a software developer's kit that Digital plans to make available.

"It's the most creative thing that Digital has done since the Vax," says Carl Lehmann, programming director at Meta Group, in Stamford, Connecticut. "It's very entrepreneurial."

However, Digital will face stiff competition in the corporate space.

"Microsoft is building access to a search engine into its Office applications," Lehmann says.

Verity and Fulcrum Technologies are also extending their search engines to support intranets.

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