RealTime IT News

Netscape Teams With HP For E-mail Support At Telstra Big Pond

In a significant shift away from Microsoft, Netscape has allied with Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Cisco Systems to win a bid for infrastructure support for Telstra Big Pond, one of the largest ISPs in Australia.

The joint contract means the three vendors will provide support for Australian telecommunications company Telstra's Big Pond Internet and e-mail service.

Under the deal, Netscape's Mission Control, Directory Server and Messaging Server products will provide directory, security and administration services.

The win for Netscape is surprising, given that Telstra has a long history of Microsoft alliances, including a 40,000-seat roll-out of Internet Explorer 4.0 last year.

However, Telstra Big Pond has come under fire over the past year for one or two embarrassing systems crashes, which were blamed by the media on Windows NT-based mail servers.

The new system, planned for early 1999, is "more than just bells and whistles," maintained Phil Sykes, national general manager of Internet and IT products for Network Technology Group and Multimedia (NTG&M), Telstra's business unit. "There are definite business advantages," he said.

These advantages include reduced service disruption to customers and greater reliability for business mail users, Sykes said, to head off Big Pond's burgeoning growth rate before it outstrips its parent telco's Internet service capabilities.

Rob Stewart, managing director of Netscape Australia and New Zealand, was "more than a little delighted," by the contract. "It signals to the industry that Netscape has stepped up to the high end of e-mail implementation with a robust, scalable solution," Stewart said.

The system will allow Telstra to deliver more cost-effective support and scale quickly for the "millions of customers on the cards," said Sykes. He added that Netscape's server will replace the current NTMail in a "strategic decision" to increase the "integrity" and centralised control of Big Pond's online services.

Sykes said that Telstra chose HP because of its proven integration support, and that Telstra's teaming up with Netscape reflected its eagerness to target the same business and residential customers as e-mail grows in popularity as a communication tool. He believed the deal would raise the availability of Big Pond's service and lower operational and mailbox licensing costs.