Terra Lycos launches enterprise services unit

Web portal company Terra Lycos SA is set to announce the creation of Terra Lycos Enterprise Services on Monday, a new business unit set up to capitalize on the company's own experience with running large Web sites.

The new business unit, which Terra Lycos hopes will generate millions of dollars in revenue in the next 12 months, targets companies with Web sites that serve over one million pages per day. On offer is managed Web hosting together with extras including content for Web sites and Web tools such as search, message boards and chat boxes, according to Terra Lycos, based in Barcelona.

Hosting with Terra Lycos will cost US$20,000 to $150,000 a month, depending on the size of the Web site. Terra Lycos personnel will manage hardware that is collocated in a Cable and Wireless PLC data center, said Nick Werthessen, group product manager for the new Terra Lycos Enterprise Services group.

"We are one of the largest managed hosters in the world today, we just happen to manage our own sites," said Werthessen, noting that Terra Lycos has about 50 different sites. "Those sites incorporate a variety of technologies and that variety is a source of strength for us in managed hosting."

The hosting market is crowded already, with big players such as WorldCom Inc., but Terra Lycos believes it has value to add.

"It is a crowded market, but we are not just showing up saying we can host your site, we can add search and we can add you to our search index," said Tom Wilde, general manager of Search Services for Terra Lycos.

Pricing for the search offering, called InSite Enterprise, can range from $5,000 to $60,000 a month, depending on the number of pages in a site and the query volume, said Werthessen. The search results page can be hosted by Lycos with the customer's look and feel, Wilde said.

"It is an alternative to buying complex and expensive search software," he said.

Message boards and chat boxes, hosted at Lycos in the customer's layout, cost from $4,000 up to $40,000 a month, depending on traffic. Pricing for news and stock quotes, which Terra Lycos gets from its financial portal and from Wired News, depends on the number of visitors to a site and can range from $2,000 to $15,000 a month, Werthessen said.

Andy Greenman, senior analyst with the Yankee Group, doesn't believe large businesses will drop the likes of WorldCom to host with Terra Lycos.

"I can't see large enterprises and even-medium size businesses with about 500 employees trusting Terra Lycos with hosting their Web site. I don't think Terra Lycos has the ability to offer the tailor-made hosting solutions such customers need," he said.

Terra Lycos also faces tough competition on the search service market, especially from companies like Inktomi Corp., Greenman said.

"Inktomi is really a key player in the enterprise market and they've had enormous success with corporate portal searching. Anyone trying to break in to that market has to consider Inktomi as a strong competitor," he said.

Ernestine McKay, a client online services manager for international law firm Clifford Chance LLP in London, said her company does not need an elaborate search tool for its main Web site now, but that it is an option for the future.

"We now have a robust standard indexed search tool developed by our Web designer that meets our needs. However, we are considering rebuilding the site with increased access to databases. Search and navigation would become more important and we would consider purchasing technology," she said.

Marcel van Ooijen, e-communications specialist at insurance company OHRA BV of Arnhem, Netherlands, said he would trust Terra Lycos with hosting and search, but noted that critical parts of OHRA's Web site will always be hosted in-house.

"Everybody on the Internet knows (Terra) Lycos. The name has a lot of credibility," he said. "Our Web site hosting is partly outsourced. We keep our applications and the link with the back office in-house for security reasons."

OHRA just launched a new Web site, one without search functionality. However, a Dutch supplier of natural-language search engine technology has already been selected to add a search index to the site, said Van Ooijen.

Initially, the new Terra Lycos offerings will only be available in the U.S., but expansion to other countries, including Europe, is in the works, said Werthessen.

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