Service to 'Jazz' up 'Net portals

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- ThruPort Technologies is getting set to enter the hosted collaboration software market with a service that allows businesses to set up Internet-based portals for e-mail, calendars, file sharing and contact management.

ThruPort's service is based on a platform called Jazz, which was built to work over the Internet, ThruPort founder and CEO Bruce Waldack says. Waldack previously started hosting company digitalNation, which was acquired by Verio last year.

Some of Jazz's features include browser-based access for almost any client or platform, the ability to run less- bandwidth-intensive graphics for slow modem connections, integration with third-party applications and the ability to be customized through an API.

Waldack believes the ability to customize the Jazz interface will set the platform apart from the offerings of potential competitors, such as Critical Path. End users won't want their portals to look like a Hotmail interface; rather, they "want it to look like it's their own thing," Waldack says.

Jazz can be used as a collaboration tool for a company's employees or as a means of creating a Web portal for communities of interest.

Although Jazz can scale up to one million users, Waldack believes initial customers will be small and midsize companies that don't have the IT expertise to build and host a collaboration environment of their own.

ThruPort will host the Jazz service out of its data centers in California and Virginia on Cobalt Networks servers.

Carrie Lewis, an analyst with The Yankee Group, says the Jazz software should run better in an application service provider (ASP) environment than software that wasn't designed for the Internet.

"This is the next phase of the ASP market, where companies build the applications from the ground up for ASP delivery," she says.

Lewis adds ThruPort may be able to offer better service-level agreements than competitors because it controls its own server environment.

Pricing of the Jazz service will vary depending on the number of users. The base price will be $99 per month, and $1 per user for up to 100 users. That pricing includes a Cobalt server and the Jazz software.

This story, "Service to 'Jazz' up 'Net portals" was originally published by Network World.

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