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IBM goes through Olympic trials

IBM is testing server software for large companies through the Olympics Web site.

NEW YORK--IBM is gearing up to help Fortune 500 companies supercharge the performance of their Web sites through server software it is developing and testing on the official site for this summer's Olympic Games in Atlanta.

By next year, IBM hopes to offer a software solution to large corporations that will improve the scalability of Web sites for running database-intensive applications that perform actual transactions over the Net, said John Patrick, vice president of Internet technology for IBM, at the PC Expo trade show here.

Although the final product has not yet been named, it is based on a system called WOMPLEX (Web object model-plex), itself based on a high-performance Web server called WOMBeast. The system is specifically designed to allow a Web site supported by multiple servers to determine, based on a surfer's Internet Protocol address, which server can offer the best performance at a given moment and then direct the user to that machine. Japanese and Australian users, for example, could be sent to servers in their geographic regions when they try to enter the same Web site instead of having to compete with each other for the next available server.

According to IBM, the WOMPLEX system will become important as large publishers and storefronts begin to run into performance problems.

"Long term, one of the major issues to be dealt with is scalability," Patrick said. "[WOMPLEX] could be for banks, health care, or sporting organizations like the NHL."

IBM will begin turning WOMPLEX into a commercial product by offering it as part of its Net consulting services by the end of the year and, later, as a set of server components, Patrick said.

Meanwhile, IBM also underscored its current Internet offerings at PC Expo, announcing new versions of its Web server and firewall software, as well as performance improvements for its Internet access service.

--IBM Global Networks announced that by mid-July it will offer dial-up access to the Internet at 33.6 kbps, rather than the current 28.8-kpbs industry standard. IBM is working with US Robotics to offer modems that will allow users to connect at the higher speed. IBM Global Network, which has 600 points of presence worldwide, will also offer other TCP/IP and multiprotocol LAN dial-up services.

--IBM announced new versions of its Web servers, Internet Connection Server and Internet Connection Secure Server 4.1. The new servers include improved tools for visitor tracking and security. The company also plans to post by the end of the month beta versions of HP-UX and Sun Solaris beta releases of the servers. A Windows 95 version will follow in July, priced at $99 for the "base" server and $295 for a secure server.

--The company unveiled a new firewall product called the Internet Connection Secured Network Gateway V2.2, which notably adopts new interoperability standards so that it can exchange encrypted information with other firewalls. The firewall is available now for downloading.