March 10, 1997

The Last Word
The new push at Internet World: More
By Eric Lundquist

  Here's what you'll be reading and hearing about from Internet World this week:

More levels of push than you ever thought possible, certainly more than you will ever need, and a couple that will never make it beyond the press release stage. The focus on client-side push products was all the rage about six Internet years ago (last spring). Running a separate push client is quickly becoming déclassé as the capabilities become part of Netscape's and Microsoft's products.

The new push focus is on the server side as the push vendors learn the same lesson (how many times do we have to learn the same thing?) that the client/server and early Web site builders discovered. If your server is not ready to quickly scale up to new load levels, then the success associated with bringing on lots of clients--or lots of people hitting your Web site or lots of people selecting your push channel—only means that your server tower crumbles and success becomes a user rout.

You will read how lots of companies claim to have figured out how to beef up servers in sync with increased user demand, but despite the claims of the data modelers, the only real way to test how a server will perform under a big load is to, well, put it under a big load. One company I would keep my eye on is StarBurst Communications (www.starburstcom.com), which has built the company from ground up on a broadcast metaphor and has teamed with Cisco to go from metaphor to reality.

Unfortunately, you'll also be hearing a lot of marketspeak. I've always thought one of the coolest things about the Net was that if you had a decent idea for a product, you could post an early version of it and get some immediate feedback, which you could then use to perfect your product. This seemed a great way to hasten the end of marketspeak, where big companies (one in Redmond comes to mind) could chill a market simply by promising a product or feature that could be years from actual deployment. Netscape seems to have caught this disease of late and is busy spewing product code names faster than it can actually develop products.

It seems even the Web isn't sufficiently mighty to displace those PowerPoint slides that always show problem resolution is only one revision away.

And here's one issue you won't be hearing about, but I will probably hear plenty about it as our Internet World Spencer Katt party winds down. The security problems that have popped up in Microsoft's IE and Windows 95 architectures and highlighted by companies such as EliaShim (www.eliashim.com) and Cybersnot (www.cybersnot.com) have put the MS Internet juggernaut on pause as the company tries to provide a comprehensive security solution.

The question is, is it a pause only for MS or a pause of the entire Net business as the pesky issue of security once again cools Net growth?

Comments? Contact Eric Lundquist at eric_lundquist@zd.com.

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