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Innovate or die on the Net

If Netscape is David to Microsoft's Goliath, then FTP Software may be one of several bugs trying to get out from under Goliath's foot.

If Netscape Communications is David to Microsoft's Goliath, then FTP Software (FTPS) may be one of several bugs trying to get out from under Goliath's foot.

When Microsoft added a TCP/IP protocol stack to its Windows NT and Windows 95 operating systems, it essentially ruined FTP's principal source of revenue while adding value to the Windows operating system.

"Microsoft and Netscape moved TCP/IP capabilities from a product to a feature," said recently hired FTP President and COO Glenn C. Hazard.

FTP's performance has faltered as a result. For the second quarter ending June 30, the company reported a net loss of $13 million, capping nearly a year of diminished returns. Third-quarter results, to be announced shortly, are not expected to be much better.

Now the company has reinvented itself as an Internet protocol networking and Java-based management agent vendor, pinning its hopes for the future on ten years of experience in TCP/IP, its ability to create strategic partnerships, and the cross-platform capabilities of Sun Microsystems' Java programming language.

Starting last month and continuing over the next several months, the company plans to roll out a series of products that will add a layer to TCP/IP-based networks that offers added security and manageability to administrators concerned with the anonymity of users and the randomness of access in IP networks. The company will also launch a series of Java-based management agents that will be able to interact with systems in a bidirectional way.

In a recent demonstration, FTP officials automatically added the latest data to a sales spreadsheet from a console. This way, users will not have to access internal data to receive the latest information when arriving at the office; it will already be there.

Hazard said he thinks of FTP as a 2-1/2-month-old start-up because of the evolution that has taken place. According to the new FTP chief, "in chaos, there is profit," and he sees the current confused state of the Internet and intranet market as a unique opportunity for FTP to regain its form.