iPlanet pitches communications platform

The future may be wireless but there’s still one common thread tying that future to the real world: communications.

iPlanet E-Commerce Solutions – a Sun-Netscape Alliance firm established by America Online and Sun Microsystems in March 1999 – has rolled out its communications software platform which is designed to enable the rapid delivery of communications and collaboration services over converged voice, wireline and wireless networks.

The iPlanet Intelligent Communications Platform features the iPlanet Messaging Server, Calendar Server, Wireless Server and Directory Server. The system exposes a range of open, extensible interfaces allowing service providers, telecommunications companies and enterprises the opportunity to create innovative services geared to take advantage of modern communication technologies.

“We’re targeting both the ASP and the enterprise market with this release,” explained Micheal Sharma, CEO of iPlanet in Toronto. “This technology is our 5.0 version and this product combines the best of Sun’s and Netscape’s old messaging services. Whether you require wireline or wireless access, our directory’s main components provide a customized view to that service.”

Key services sewn into the iPlanet quilt include wireless access services offering the ability to deliver e-mail, calendar and an address book via wireless protocols (WML, HDML, HTML) to multiple devices (browser clients, WAP-enabled handhelds) using an architecture capable of handling GSM, CDMA, 3G and future networking technologies, according to iPlanet. Moreover, the iPlanet Messaging Server 5.0 combines features from the Sun Microsystems and Netscape messaging servers with a carrier-grade platform for Internet-based messaging. The iPlanet Calendar Server 5.0 provides layered calendars for multiple use and customized support, including simple XML templates for integration of brands, logos, banner ads and a customer’s feel. This server also offers a range of APIs, with an Internet-based plug-in architecture for mail, wireless and portals and a notification service.

“That’s the idea behind intelligent communications,” Sharma said. “The customized, personalized service. It’s more than just another messaging service.

“There are a couple of unique things about it: its scope as messaging services today offered by our competitors are not directory-based, and we give our clients the opportunity to choose either a wireline or wireless service. I’m sure our competitors will follow suit. They’ll have to.”

iPlanet’s Directory Server presents a robust user-management infrastructure for service providers and enterprises that manage high volumes of user information. Integrated with existing systems, Directory Server acts as a central repository for the consolidation of user information, profiles and preferences as well as extranet user authentication.

Initially rolled-out last October, Sharma said iPlanet is enjoying the company of a wide array of Canadian enterprises that don’t all reside in Toronto and/or in the communications space.

Stiff competition

Industry analyst Kevin Restivo of IDC Canada in Toronto said the iPlanet communications solution is a formidable offering, but it faces stiff competition.

“They’re up against Oracle and their new Web services strategy. Microsoft’s .NET is also aimed at Web services and they’re the two predominant software vendors worldwide,” he said. “[iPlanet’s] service-layer integration is technologically sound and they’re known for their strong technology in general, but providing business value and interoperability as more companies move towards the communications platform is key for any Web services offering.”

The integrated component products that comprise the iPlanet Intelligent Communications Platform can be purchased separately or on a per-user basis. Pricing for iPlanet Messaging Server 5.0 and Calendar Server 5.0 begins at US$3 per user, while the Wireless Server is priced at US$7 per user. iPlanet’s Directory Server is fully integrated into the messaging and calendar products at no extra cost. Bundled packaging was to become available this month.

iPlanet in Santa Clara, Calif., can be found on-line at www.iplanet.com or via the phone at 1-888-786-8111.