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Sun-Netscape duo gives itself high marks

Summing up its first 100 days, the Sun-Netscape alliance says it is on schedule for integrating e-commerce and Internet software from the two partners.

Summing up its first 100 days, the Sun-Netscape alliance said today that it is on schedule for integrating e-commerce and Internet software from the two partners.

As reported yesterday, the products from the alliance will be marketed under the new brand name of iPlanet. That is derived from Sun's i-Planet product, which will be renamed iPlanet Webtop 2.0. Sun acquired i-Planet in September 1998.

The Sun-Netscape alliance grew out of America Online's acquisition of Netscape Communications last year. The joint organization has roughly 2,400 employees and continues to hire.

The alliance unveiled a new portal for e-commerce initiatives to promote its product brand and plans a major print and online ad campaign with the tagline, "iPlanet: Run with it."

The two companies are merging their respective Internet products into a new line of corporate software, including email, calendars, and application, Web, and directory servers.

The newly merged products are expected to ship early next year. The e-commerce software, from Netscape's former CommerceExpert family, is virtually all Netscape technology.

For the overlapping products, the alliance will release updates this year as it prepares to combine them in 2000. After a unified application server comes out in the first quarter of 2000, the organization expects to release three application servers for specific markets by the end of 2000.

The Web browser software will continue to be called Netscape Navigator and Communicator, and Sun engineers will fold their browser operations into a unified development effort with AOL-Netscape engineers, executives said today.

Mark Tolliver, general manager of the alliance, said that in its first quarter of operations, the partners signed 40 new customers, pushing the total above 300. About 80 new distributors, resellers, and value-added resellers (VARs) have also signed up with the alliance. But Tolliver declined to release financial results for the operation, which he dubbed "a pure play software and services company for the Internet."

AOL's business software unit has grown some 24 percent to $128 million from $103 million. The surprisingly good result owes to a pickup in corporate sales at the end of the recent quarter, AOL said.

Tolliver also said the alliance had signed 26 deals worth more than $1 million in last quarter and sold 25 million mailboxes between the two messaging servers.

Guy "Bud" Trimble, a Sun engineer and cofounder of Next, was named chief technology officer for the alliance.

Reuters contributed to this report.