Internet evolution leaves rest of existence in its wake

No other industry, it seems, has ever moved as fast or as furious as the Internet. Since the new year the Internet has jumped from a focus on email and the World Wide Web to becoming an integral part of corporate database access and networking. Intranets are all the rage.

In just a few short months we have seen the introduction, growth, and acceptance of intranet. Novell, the market leader in LANs and networks, is starting to bring out products that integrate nicely with Web publishing and many of the Internet tools like Java and Common Gateway Interface. IT shops that have invested in Novell technology do not need to feel threatened by the intranet boomlet.

The intranet browser market is also heating up. Oracle, slow to jump on the Internet bandwagon, has staked out the high ground with a Web browser specifically designed for use with intranets and databases. PowerBrowser 1.5 is poised to become a key product as IT managers try to find products to match their requirements. Netscape and Microsoft's Internet Explorer are trying to be all things to all people and as a result might be missing the boat for those who require a solution to their business problems. Network managers trying to integrate a number of applications and database access issues will invariably go with a product that addresses their needs.

Oracle New Zealand marketing manager Prashanta Mukherjee notes that an intranet can go a long way in standardising interfaces across an organisation. These new tools allow IT managers to custom-build interfaces for a certain class of user quickly and easily. Mukherjee also points out that there has been more testing of intranet solutions in a shorter time than almost any other type of network. The stuff works.

On another front, the actual delivery mechanism for the Internet is also in a state of constant flux. If we ignore the jockeying for bandwidth delivery to the corporate and household user that is playing out right now, we see another battle brewing between those who promote a low-end Internet browser, again Oracle with Larry Ellison's network computer (NC), versus the high-end Pentium hot-rod machine. The key, as has been pointed out, is bandwidth ... if the bandwidth is there, the NC will be a winner. Otherwise, the computational power has to sit locally. We'll be watching closely the IHUG pilot for wireless Internet connectivity. Until we can get faster and more reliable delivery of data to homes and businesses at a lower price, Internet use will remain marginal. Content and delivery go hand-in-hand if the Internet is to become an integral part of day-to-day commercial activity.

(Phil Parent is a Computerworld contributor and Internet consultant at Creative Design. He can be emailed at pjp@iprolink.co.nz or contacted via Creative Design's Web site, at http://www.cd.co.nz/cd)

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