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Browsers become GUIs:
Products with web-based components
For several years, I've been following developments showing how the web
browser has become the defacto graphical user interface for many different
types of applications. You can read an old but relevant op/ed piece on web-based network management for PC
Week (1997) and an
opinion piece I wrote in 1996 about the subject for c|net's news.com. Some
of these products are also covered in several of my Windows Sources columns. Another good
directory of browser-based vendors and products can be found at AllegroSoft.
This page is a list of links that I intend to maintain keeping you up to
date on these products. Where possible, the links go directly to demos of the
product that you can conduct from the comfort of your own browser. Please
note: this page is more of a historical record than a current listing, but
if you find broken or outdated links, do let me know.
Web-based network management
Dan Backman of Network Computing magazine (7/15/97) wrote a cover story on web-based
management that is worth reading. A group of vendors have been involved in
the Web-Based Enterprise Management
Standards effort, to make some coherent sense out of managing various
devices with a web interface.
One of the first products to incorporate this is the Compaq Insight Manager
There are several products that offer support for web-based management:
- Coyote Point Systems tool
can manage server load balancing and control resources and display
- Compu-Shack's Active SNMP its
own self-contained web server with Java applets to manage SNMP devices
- SNMP's Research DR-Web.
- Asante's IntraSpection, a
web-based management tool that works with external web servers to manage
SNMP devices, including their own IntraSwitch and 3Com hubs.
Networks' NetDirector@Web, an embedded server.
Web Administration for NT, exposes command-line and Control Panel
configuration via the web.
- Computer Associates'
Unicenter TNG offers a Java-based front end to their network
- NetBrowser Communications' eSentry,
another means of using browsers to manage networked devices. Demo is located here with
"demo" as ID and password
- Thin Soft Ranger, a
Java-based SNMP network manager
- Advent Web NMS, a Java-based network
- Fujitsu's Net Prism,
another Java-based net management tool
- Intel Device View for
- Virtual Motion's
Webconnect for Remote Access Manager, a web-browser based method of
administering their remote access software for NT.
RangeLAN2 Manager has a web-based component to manage its wireless LAN
bridges. (Demo available.)
- Dayna's Internet
Station, a communications server that allows multiple PCs to share a
single dialup line, and managed via a browser. (My review on 1/98 of this
product in Internet World.)
newer Netopia ISDN routers can be managed via browsers.
- HiTecSoft's WebConsole
can extend the console of NetWare servers to a browser (reviewed in Infoworld).
- Caravelle's IP netWatcher, Server-side
Java with a browser-based console for testing IP devices and services.
- Ipswitch Whats Up Gold,
network server monitoring tool
Technology's various products which display real-time data via Java
Embedded web servers and web appliances
A growing market of devices that are webs-in-a-box or thin
web servers that can be embedded in other products. We have an entire page of links and products here, and you
can read our in-depth report here. And
here are some of the more popular embedded web products:
Calendaring software with web interfaces
This is a product category that makes a great deal of sense,
especially to people that travel to places where they will still have their
Internet connection and don't want to carry their calendaring software with
them. However, there are critical differences among the various products: some
can only read (and not post new) appointments via a browser, some must be
installed on the same server as the web server, some are totally service-based
that run at the vendor's site, and some only work on particular OSs.
- Calendarz, web-based service free,
supports read-only shared access. I use this for maintaining my own
calendar, see my Web Informant essay for
start up web-based service
- JointPlanning.com, another free
web-based service offering discussion groups and group calendars
- Appoint.net , another free web-based
- Yahoo Calendar, formerly WebCal.
Import/export events to Pilot, single-user access only.
- Excite Communities,
only single-user calendar access but lots of other features
- Lotus Organizer is my favorite.
It is simple to install, runs on the same NT server as the web. Demo and
free downloads here.
- FTP Software's On Time Web Edition.
Demo here, no download. Only the NT-based server has full read/write
access to web calendar (NetWare and Vines-based servers have read access
- Qualcomm/Now Software's Up to Date
Web Publisher. Demo, extensive installation instructions, and free
limited-trial download. Requires Mac-based server, and only supports read
access of calendars.
Software's Reserve WorkGroup. Demo and a limited-trial version.
Reserve uses HTML forms for all of its setup and very difficult too.
Documentation is in Acrobat.
- Russell Information Calendar
Manager has its CM Web component that allows you to use browsers with its
software, and insert URLs into notes.
Software's CaLANdar Web View. Demos and limited-trial version.
Media's 3-2-1 Intranet. Demos and full version available, service
bureau for $10/month (10 user minimum) access to web calendars, other
- CrossWind Technologies
CyberScheduler. Demo and trial versions for NT and Unix-based servers
running Synchronize software from this company.
- PlusFactor Software, a new company
with scheduling and employee tracking software.
- eOrganizer, another web-based contact
manager and scheduler
Email and groupware products with web interfaces
If you are going to use the web to read your email, first
try to find a local library, cybercafe,
or Kinkos. There are many companies that
are now providing services to major airports: you can try to check this airport directory, or go to Laptop Lane, which has rentable offices in
a few US airports for a reasonable fee. Other comapnies, including Get2Net and QuickAid,
also offer airport kiosks with net access for around ten dollars per hour.
There are four different categories of products that make use of the web.
More information can be found at Mary Houten-Kemp's EverythingEmail. First off are those
that use your own POP server and email account, and generally offer free
access. Examples include:
Next are products that use their own POP server. These typically offer a
free email account that you access by a web browser. There are zillions
of products here at Yahoo, and notable ones I recommend are:
If you do use these web-based readers from a shared or public machine, make
sure you follow some of my
instructions here to clean up after yourself to prevent snooping from
Next are products that provide web clients access to non-POP groupware or
LAN-based email servers through various gateways. In its March 15, 1997,
Network Computing did an extensive review of three products, see When Groupware
Worlds Collide: Giants Tackle The Net. And an old 1996 review in PC Week did a review of
three other products. Examples include:
Finally, there are various web-based conferencing and
discussion groups. Some are freely available via the Internet.
Routers, switches and hubs with web interfaces
This is another product space that makes sense. People have
been dealing with telnet and command-line interfaces for too long. This is an
active effort with many products coming soon. But trying to find out
information about these products is a real chore!
Our CONTEST has come and gone, thanks to all who have entered to try to find
the on-line demos of these vendors' products. See Web
Informant #108 for contest details. The results? We had no winners. The
following vendors have announced embedded web interfaces for their switches. We
still don't have locations of any demos:
Here are other products with demos that we've found:
- Extreme Networks. Demo of ExtremeWare Vista, embedded web
server, is available here, use user name user, password purpleuser
- Foundry Networks. Demo is available of NetIron Switching Router
here, username get, password public.
- Compu-Shack's FDDI Concentrator
managed via the demo (demo available)
- Tribe's WebManage
was the first to open up their interface to the web.
- Ascend's Pipelines now come with
a Java-based configuration interface that is very useful, although you'll
need new firmware to run it.
has its ClickStart web interface, but you need to still use telnet to
do most of the configuration chores.
- 3Com has a demo of its
Transcend web interface. And here is more info on
what it plans to do for the future to embed Smart Agent technology in its
- Shiva's Access Viewer,
a browser-based tool for remote access management that consolidates
reports from multiple devices.
- Acacia Networks'
NovaWeb Server, an embedded web server in their switch.
There are a number of products that work in conjunction with
a web server to allow browser users to connect to IBM mainframes. Many of these
products can operate in several modes, including as gateways to web servers so
that any Java-based browser can view 3270 sessions.
Other products that make sensible use of web interfaces
- Printers -- This is
exciting category. For too long printers had their own management
software. At last there is some hope.
PhaserLink, which uses its own embedded web server in the printer
network hardware adapter
DPI/Osicom's NetPrint printer
servers contain a similar functionality, with an embedded web server and
web management interface.
HP's Web JetAdmin does
mostly the same thing, and now comes with its own software-based web
products -- here you can share a presentation across the Internet,
using the browser to view the contents.
Netopia Virtual Office, a remote control, messaging and conferencing
Databeam's neT.120 is a
good attempt. They also have a demo for their Learning Server
Axis Communications' NetEye is
a Internet-attached camera that is manageable via a web browser Nortel Web Conferencing ,
another web-based conference server
- Power Supplies --
again, here is another set of products that makes a great deal of sense to
HP's PowerWise assistance for the Web is the first allow its UPS's to be
managed via a browser (but no demo is available).
- Electronic Software
20/20's Net-Install that has web
- Modem Management
Multitech has new software to manage their banks of modems, but no on-line
demo is available.
- Network analyzers AG
Group's EtherPeek can deliver its monitoring reports via HTML
Same with Kaspia Systems' Monitoring
- Fax Gateways OmTool FaxSr, view and
send faxes from within your browser.
- NetWare Servers Compu-Shack's Active CS Care
can control a NetWare 3.11 or higher console via the web.
Products that I question why they are using the web as an interface:
copyright 1998 by David Strom, Inc.
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