Developed at Lucent's Bell Laboratories, Terranova Express allows even novice PC users to install software quickly and efficiently on their desktop PCs without technical support, officials at Lucent said.
The new service is designed to simplify the jobs of MIS professionals and reduce the cost of distributing and tracking software in big organizations. It also aims to benefit resellers by distributing software online, saving the expense of inventory and shipping.
With Terranova Express, due to become available this month, companies can establish storefronts on their intranets; when users want a new piece of software, they simply order it from their internal store. The Lucent service tracks and reports downloads and configures the new software on a user's PC.
"Lucent becomes a confidant for software resellers," said Noel Terranova, who designed the service. "When we put storefront on your server, we do not tell other software licensing agents [resellers]. If a customer buys software from our server, the record is sent that night to Lucent's data center, which transfers the record to the proper licensing agent." That sales data is not disclosed to other resellers.
The service also lets managers control application versions among employees, to help ensure that various desktops have access to the same software. Terranova Express also can distribute in-house, proprietary applications.
For its service, Lucent will pocket a $2 to $3 transaction fee for each software purchase. To set up the internal storefront, corporate customers must buy a Lucent Pentium Pro PC for around $11,795. Server and client software for intranet customers is free.
While electronic software distribution has become a hot topic among software publishers, discussion has been focused on distributing software over the public Internet. Lucent is among the first to target corporate intranets.
Lucent's scheme maintains existing relationships among software resellers and buyers, which may be one reason reseller Programmers Paradise (PROG) likes the arrangement. A corporation's existing resellers can set up shop in the internal store and get credit for sales made there.
"Terranova Express allows us to move in an entirely new direction for delivering software to our clients," Joe Popolo, executive vice president of Programmers Paradise, said in a statement. "Several of our larger customers have already expressed an interest in Terranova Express."
Although software publishers could use the Lucent system to bypass resellers and go directly to their customers, Paul Fillinich, marketing manager for Lucent's Software Solutions Group, said most publishers today still rely on the channel.
By focusing on intranets, Terranova Express avoids two sticky problems for Internet-based software distribution: security and bandwidth. Security concerns are minimized because the transactions take place over an internal network; bandwidth concerns are alleviated because most intranets can download far faster than standard 28.8-kpbs modems allow on the Net.
Lucent plans to partner with resellers to implement Terranova Express. It also will approach corporations directly about the program.