The company will use its own software to build a sprawling "extranet," dubbed Netscape Insight, which will connect Netscape with its customers, partners, and employees.
Using your own software is a shibboleth of the high-tech industry, designed to breed confidence about the product among customers. Microsoft, for example, touts the fact that it uses Internet Information Server and Windows NT Server to run its corporate and Microsoft Network Web sites.
Netscape has long used its server software to run its own Web site, but Insight will help the software firm showcase the capabilities of extranets, a new use for Net software that the company is pushing to customers. Unlike internal company networks or intranets, an extranet links a business with its partners across the Internet, allowing them to exchange competitive information and other private data.
A critical feature of extranets is the ability of a Web server to distinguish between users who are authorized to view private information and interlopers. Insight will rely on new capabilities in its SuiteSpot 3.0 and Communicator software, including digital certificates and access control lists, to keep track of who is allowed to visit particular sites.
What will Netscape put on its extranet? The company can speak generally about the contents of Insight--contact management, sales tools, support and training data. Beyond that, though, the site is confidential.
"A lot of it is very strategic and tactical information," said Jeff Treuhaft, Netscape's director of extranet marketing. "We use a term called 'silver bullets' that report on competitive situations or breaking product stories."