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Netscape to overhaul servers

The company revamps its Internet server pricing and packaging to compete better with major software firms like Microsoft and Lotus.

Netscape Communications (NSCP) has revamped its Internet server pricing and packaging to compete more effectively with major software companies like Microsoft and Lotus Development, company executives said today.

Netscape has introduced two new server packages--SuiteSpot 3.1 Standard Edition and SuiteSpot Professional Edition--instead of the single server suite it previously offered. The company will also lower the number of licenses, or "seats," that it requires a customer to purchase so that it can sell products more effectively to companies of various sizes.

"Today it's one size fits all, whether you're building your first intranet or you're the biggest company on the planet," said Mike Homer, senior vice president of marketing at Netscape.

Netscape also unveiled new channel policies designed to make the company more reseller-friendly. Under the new program, Netscape will push all potential sales that involve 500 seats or fewer a reseller. On engagements involving 500 or more seats, Netscape will work with the reseller on the accounts. Netscape, however, said it will mostly act in an advisory capacity.

The new SuiteSpot packages come with simplified pricing schemes. Formerly, SuiteSpot pricing was governed by arcane formulas and contract regulations. Now, a simple per-user price for Netscape products is more consistent with pricing structures of competitors. To calculate the expense of licensing Netscape software, customers and resellers will simply count the number of "seats" within their company.

"It wasn't easy for the reseller, and it was even more difficult for the customer," said Peter Jackson, chief executive officer at Intraware, a Netscape reseller. "Customers will probably stand up and clap."

Beginning August 1, customers will be able to purchase SuiteSpot 3.1 Standard Edition, which includes Enterprise Server Pro with a new management console called Netshare; Calendar Server 3.0, Messaging Server; Collabra Server; and Directory Server. Pricing for companies that purchase Standard Edition and Communicator client software will be $130 per seat for 100 and $79 per seat for 5,000.

SuiteSpot Professional Edition includes the same software in the Standard Edition plus Mission Control administration software; Proxy Server, Certificate Server; and Compass Server, a new server for tracking automatically tracking information on the Net and newsgroups. Purchased with Communicator, the Professional Edition will cost $179 per seat for 100 seats and $109 per seat for 5,000.

Netscape also rolled out new ground rules for referring potential customers to resellers. Under the new program, Netscape will push all potential sales that involve 500 seats or fewer to one of its reseller partners. On engagements involving 500 or more seats, Netscape will work with the reseller on the accounts. Netscape, however, said it will mostly act in an advisory capacity.

Netscape has had a tumultuous history with its resellers. The new ground rules give resellers incentives to stick with Netscape. When the company started, it handled many of its large accounts directly, cutting out partners from a major revenue stream, often in their own established customer base.

In reaction, Microsoft established a number of programs to make it more profitable for resellers to sell its IIS Web server and NT server. Microsoft historically has tried to drive all sales to its partners. By setting specific bars, Netscape gives itself more credibility with this crucial community of resellers.

Netscape executives have said that the below-500 seat engagement will likely be an important segment of future sales. It will have another meeting in 90 days to flesh out terms of handling the larger accounts.

Netscape also said it would open up its "charters" program, for sales to large enterprise customers, to its reseller base. Currently, only a handful of partners are able to handle this type of sale, a situation that has frustrated a number of parties.

The new reseller programs will be launched next month. SuiteSpot 3.1 standard edition is due to ship in the third quarter, while the professional edition is expected to be rolled out in the fourth quarter.