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AOL targets the enterprise

November 23, 1998
Web posted at: 1:15 PM EST

by Sandra Gittlen


(IDG) -- A matchup between America Online and Netscape will mean a new generation of heavy-duty enterprise software and services, some observers say.

Although the butt of jokes over the past few years, America Online, in fact, has shown how to scale directories serving millions of users. Couple this with Netscape's existing directory offerings and you've got a desirable commodity, according to Todd Chipman, a director at Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, Calif.

"Far more exciting than buying a browser, this merger would bring the whole technical lean to AOL in terms of products," Chipman says. "It would bring the enterprise to AOL."

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"In the past, Netscape's Directory Server didn't have the ability to handle large users," he says. "But with AOL being able to manage all of its users, it makes sense to bring that into the directory fold... pairing with AOL would allow Netscape to have a more robust product."

Netscape's certificate server would add a security layer to any new AOL offering, in what is becoming a hot market, Chipman says. He adds that it will also make AOL a competitor to Novell, which also has enterprise directory offerings.

AOL could conceivably marry its directory offerings with its existing global enterprise service as part of a new range of managed IP services.

Ray Sheedy, director of corporate telecommunications at pharmacy chain Walgreens, Inc. in Deerfield, Ill., says he would consider an AOL-Netscape matchup for e-commerce services. "With AOL's backbone and number of customers," Sheedy says he thinks it's just the boost Netscape needs to sell its suite of e-commerce products.

Sheedy, who uses AOL for home access, says he hopes the new company will have the same level of attention to customers that AOL has for its consumer services. "They call proactively to check on your service and that's a good thing," he says.

Sandra Gittlen is Network World Fusion's Senior Online Reporter.

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