Attack of the Tarantellas

Attack of the Tarantellas

Add yet another technology to the portal mix: Web-to-host access.

By Paul Montgomery

One of the most difficult tricks to master in building an enterprise information portal is how to avoid the need to exit the Web client to access other parts of your legacy data. It defeats the purpose of the "single interface to corporate data" if a user has to go back to the desktop to crank up a terminal emulator or word processor to work with content.

The Santa Cruz Operation, better known as SCO, is one of a number of developers of Web-to-host access software - rivals include Citrix, Esker and Attachmate - and it is now turning its full attention to this problem. Web-to-host access software delivers enterprise applications over Internet protocols, where previously they had been built for a client/server configuration with a "fat client" sitting on a networked PC.

SCO's Tarantella product was launched several years ago as a solution to the network-slowing problem for Unix, mainframe and other legacy applications. The second version, called Tarantella Enterprise II, includes support for Windows NT applications through the use of a network technology developed by Microsoft called Remote Desktop Protocol. Apart from becoming the first competition to Citrix's MetaFrame for NT systems, SCO is also pushing Tarantella as a tool for building corporate portals.

"What a corporate portal should be is a ubiquitous access point to any part of a corporate information system," said Peter Laytham, enterprise partners manager for the Pacific region for SCO. "You should be able to access your normal applications, plus email, without needing to change them, from anywhere. Tarantella accomplishes all of that."

Some vendors have already tried to marry this idea with the concept of the portal, such as Esker with the Webtop feature in its Esker PLUS 3.0 product (featured in Image & Data Manager's first portal listing, July/August 1999, page 23). Hummingbird's forthcoming EIP product will also incorporate host access elements into its single interface. Citrix is the undisputed leader in host access for Windows applications, and Mr Laytham said he expected them to talk about portals soon, but when contacted, a local Citrix representative said there was no information from the company on the matter.

Business Solution: