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FTP Software fighting irrelevancy

Struggling FTP Software laid out a road map to regain momentum, and now it's ready to deliver as an "IP networking infrastructure" vendor.

Struggling FTP Software (FTPS) has laid out a road map to regain momentum. Now it's time to deliver.

A plethora of red ink has taken FTP Software to the brink of irrelevancy. Formerly a giant in offering a TCP/IP communications software stack for Microsoft operating systems, FTP Software was left out in the cold when the software giant decided it made a lot of sense to include the stack in Windows 95 and Windows NT.

But FTP Software is showing signs of resurgence, delivering on a strategy that centers around client and server networking software and automated management software based on Java agent technology. The strategy also includes partnerships, an area that was bolstered yesterday with the announcement that IBM (IBM) would join with FTP Software to develop and market TCP/IP-based technologies and FTP's "virtual IP" (VIP) networking concept.

IBM said the FTP strategy to layer IP over existing networks and adding feature sets akin to older, proprietary systems is a similar vision to their own. IBM will focus on integrating FTP's client and agent technologies initially, according to Al Zollar, general manager of IBM's networking software division.

FTP Software representatives said they are on track to deliver in the first half of this year a communications server on Windows NT with address translation and IP security capabilities; new client software updates, including a new application suite; and a set of management tools based on agents for software distribution and messaging, as well as auditing and tracking.

In the second half of the year, the company will focus on multidirectory integration, authentication, and policy management server software and network monitoring, address allocation, and management software, as well as secure clients for all Microsoft platforms.

Analysts have said companies that have previously added value to base operating systems may find a larger market in providing the software "plumbing" for networks based on prevalent protocols such as IP, the communications protocol for the Internet.

Previously, the company was focused on IP clients, but now it has evolved into an "IP networking infrastructure" vendor, according to John Robson, FTP's technical director for networking and communications. The company is expected to be busy throughout the year encouraging partners to work with its technology, hoping to gain critical mass through ubiquity.