On rethinking the network model.
* ON RETHINKING THE NETWORK MODEL "It's amazing the small role that software has played to date in networking," says Bill Peyton, who is in charge of sales and marketing at Network Computing magazine. one reason, he believes, is that developers themselves don't have enough hands-on experience with network applications. "Few software companies--especially small ones--use networks on a daily basis for more than printing and file sharing. So developers don't always see the interesting business opportunities that networks have begun to create." Peyton argues that it's important to move away from traditional stand-alone product design and marketing models and take a fresh look at networks as a brand-new platform. He recently outlined a few concepts he believes developers should think about when creating network-based products: * New platform and application models: As cross-platform connectivity solutions improve, Peyton notes that hardware and operating systems no longer define the platform. "The platform is in fact the network and all the computers on it," he says. In turn, networks are beginning to define new application models based on "work flow dynamics" (Soft-letter, 12/1/87) rather than single-user tasks. E-mail is an obvious growth area, says Peyton; another hot application might be forms that are smart enough to know where they should go." * New customer models: For traditional stand-alone applications, says Peyton, "the guy who sees the product on the shelf is the guy who buys it." However, buying decisions for network applications tend to be much more collaborative; often, several users and a network expert--who may be an informal office PC guru--have to be sold on the product. But Peyton also points out that the pendulum hasn't just swung back" to centralized MIS control of computing environments. Half of his magazine's subscribers (a self-selected universe of network enthusiasts) "operate at the workgroup or department level." * New documentation models: Network customers don't want to get a bulky collection of manuals and disks every time they buy a license, says Peyton. People very much see documentation as something they'd trade off for lower prices." But he also expects to see different ways to deliver documentation. I'd suggest giving every 15-20 users one fat technical manual for the network administrator, plus many copies of a smaller summary manual that just talks about the top level of functionality that 95% of people use." * New support models: Along with documentation, Peyton would like to see new kinds of support programs that fit the way customers actually support their network users internally. "Most network support funnels through a few individuals," he says. These people are generally willing to pay for tech support, training, or--minimally--tapes and videos that they can use to hold classes. * New pricing models: Peyton suspects that the recent trend toward concurrent use licenses--which allow users to pay for only the number of network copies that they actually use--may be short-lived. Rather than base the pricing of network licenses on single-copy retail pricing, he says, software companies will probably reach a "reasonable compromise" with their customers that treats networks as mini-site licenses. "I think you'll eventually see a price of about $50 per node for major applications." Bill Peyton, Network Computing, 7 Wells Ave., Newton, Mass. 02159; 617/244-5333.
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|Title Annotation:||the role of software in networking; interview with Bill Peyton of Network Computing magazine|
|Date:||Sep 24, 1991|
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