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More than a Web server

Network World, 4/7/97

Joel Snyder

Microsoft and Netscape offer much more to the webmaster and network manager than simple Web servers. Both have built a complete set of network servers for every possible purpose.

Netscape's strategy goes by the name SuiteSpot, and includes a family of at least nine products. This number may jump up at any moment - there are at least 15 different servers available for download from Netscape's web site.

Using Netscape's products, you can deploy a full set of Internet-oriented groupware applications, most of which are directly accessible through Netscape's corpulent client, Communicator, in a matter of minutes. We spent more time pulling plastic wrap off of the boxes than it took to install the software.

Netscape has an excellent and full-bodied product line, but may have to cede dominance in this area to Microsoft. Back Office, Microsoft's generic term for its NT-based applications, along with Microsoft's Commercial Internet Server, have a lot of overlap with Netscape's SuiteSpot and bring the kind of depth to the table that only a company with that size and experience can. For example, while Netscape's Mail Server has a respectable mail store and SMTP delivery agent, it doesn't have the depth and breadth of Microsoft's Exchange. In fact, comparing them is unfair to start: Exchange really goes far beyond Netscape's Mail Server.

Nevertheless, both companies bring solid products to the table. Although neither would like to admit it, network managers can freely mix and match tools between product lines: Netscape's full-featured Enterprise Server coexists perfectly well with Microsoft's Exchange and SQL database servers.

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