Ensim hosting software hopes to bank on .Net

Ensim released Monday a new version of its WEBppliance software for automating Web site management aimed specifically at service providers hosting Web sites that are run on Microsoft's Web servers.

Ensim predicted heightened demand for Web hosting services on Microsoft servers thanks to Microsoft .Net Web services push, saying that it expects Linux-based Web hosting will soon see a run for its money. According to Ensim, about 40 percent of current Web hosting is done using Linux-based servers, compared to 20 percent on Microsoft servers.

"Linux and Windows are in a race and Windows is accelerating in big part because of the .Net services initiative," said Andy Kim, vice president of marketing at Ensim.

The Sunnyvale, California, company released WEBppliance 3.0 after working with Microsoft for six months on developing the first software ever that automates Windows-based Web hosting, according to Kim.

Previously, Ensim's Web hosting automation software was aimed exclusively at clients who were hosting Linux-based Web sites.

The latest version of WEBppliance offers telecommunication and service providers the ability to deploy and maintain Windows-based Web sites more quickly and efficiently, the company said, by allowing them to automate certain management functions. The software offers a set of four control panels that streamline administrative functions, as well as user, domain and reseller management tasks, cutting down on manpower time, the company said.

Especially important for the reseller channel, the software allows for branding of end-user interfaces and other customization options, Ensim said.

WEBppliance 3.0 also complies with the Microsoft Windows for Web Hosting Prescriptive Architecture Guide and supports Microsoft tools and services, such as FrontPage 2002.

"Microsoft is excited that service providers will be able to deploy Windows-based sites much more cheaply and efficiently," Kim said, adding that those sites can then take advantage of the Redmond, Washington, software giant's .Net Web services initiative.

"As new .Net services get rolled out, service providers can plug them into these domains and offer them to their customers," Kim added.

IDC analyst Melanie Posey said that the partnership between Microsoft and Ensim fits with the leading software maker's strategy of getting .Net into the infrastructure of all the hosting providers. (IDC is a division of International Data Group Inc., the parent company of the IDG News Service.)"When Microsoft sets out to dominate a market, they usually do so. But at the same time, IBM (Corp.) is pushing Linux and Solaris isn't dead yet," she said, referring to Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris operating system. "It's obviously not a slam dunk."

WEBppliance 3.0 is priced at US$179 for a five-domain license, and for managing a larger number of domains, the company charges a one-time fee of $349 per 250 domains. These prices include the software license, patches and basic e-mail and web support for 30 days, the company said.

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