Digital launches Internet division, AltaVista suite

Digital Equipment has launched a new Internet business unit and a product line built around its AltaVista World Wide Web search technology.

Hoping to capitalise on its widely used AltaVista technology, which can be accessed for free at its Web site, Digital will release during the next four months three search products for Internet and LAN users, a new mail server product and two product suites that combine its various offerings.

The company is also repackaging and renaming several currently offered products and bringing them into the AltaVista series, according to Bill Laing, technology director of the new Internet software business Unit, launched yesterday.

"AltaVista started out as a research project and we intend to continue to provide the current service; but there was quite a lot of work to be done to make the technology into commercial products," says Laing.

Digital has also announced it plans to offer 10-12 servers around the world that will mirror its AltaVista server in California, in order to reduce latency delays for its basic, free service. The company is working with partners to offer an additional server on the East Coast of the US; four to five servers in Europe; three servers in Asia; and one server in Australia. The company hopes to have five up and running during the next four months.

The thrust of the comany's product announcements revolves around three new applications built on the AltaVista search engine:

--AltaVista Enterprise Edition, aimed at private, enterprisewide intranets, for 64-bit Alpha machines running Digital Unix;

--AltaVista Workgroup Edition, targeted at company workgroups, for Intel and Alpha-based machines running Microsoft Corp.'s NT operating system;

--AltaVista Personal Editon, for searching PC hard drives and LAN files servers, running on NT and Windows 95.

All three products are slated for release within four months. Pricing was not available.

"Essentially, we've taken the AltaVista technology, added administrative functions and additional options, and packaged it as a commercial product," says Laing. "We've also provided scalability, since the product runs on different platforms, as well as -- in the case of the Personal Edition -- the ability to read popular file formats," he added.

One brand-new product launched yesterday, says Laing, is AltaVista Mail, an Internet mail server that can work with clients that incorporate the POP3 protocol, including Microsoft Exchange, Netscape Navigator and Eudora. In addition, there are gateways being built to mail products including Lotus Development's cc:Mail. Alta Vista mail is aimed at businesses that want to exchange information with customers over the Internet and at companies that want to offer mail capabilities to geographically dispersed employees.

Renamed and updated software packages include: AltaVista Tunnel, which allows data and files to be exchanged over the Internet while remaining secure; AltaVista Firewall, an Intranet and data-security package; AltaVista Forum, an Internet-based, document-exchange package; and Alta Vista Manager, a system-management product that will be offered in a BackOffice version and a Remote version.

Digital plans to package different products into suites, including the AltaVista Intranet Solution and the AltaVista Cyberworker Solution. The Internet solution will include the Workgroup Edition, AltaVista Forum and AltaVista Mail. The Cyberworker suite will include the Personal Edition, AltaVista Tunnel Personal Edition and AltaVista Personal Edition.

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