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For transcripts of previous sessions and a list of future topics, click here .
For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience), click here .
Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).
Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggestions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.
dbrigham -- My name is David Brigham. I am an instructional designer at Regents College, the University of the State of New York I am in the process of designing an Electronic Peer Network for our students (all of whom are at a distance). One component of the Network will be chat. I dropped in to see what type of chat software you are using and how it works.
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome David. The chat software used here is a cgi script -- not a commercial product. I like it because it doesn't require a plug-in (just any browser will do). And the folks at Web-net have tailored it to be very friendly for the kinds of things we do.
Richard Seltzer -- By the way, today's topic might very well
prove useful to you. We're going to deal with "value-added services" in
the broadest sense. In your case, you are interested in using chat software.
Well, one choice is to buy it, install it, learn it, etc. on your own equipment.
Another choice is to find an ISP who rents out chat rooms, as a value-added
service. You can hyperlink back and forth so it's like part of your site,
even though it's running on someone else's equipment. And you have the
flexibility of going elsewhere if the software and setup don't meet your
needs. Those are the kinds of options we want to explore today -- what
available? from whom? what's the cost? what are the tradeoff? What kinds
of business models can you build
around such services?
Pat Patterson -- Good afternoon all, My name is Pat Patterson, and I am a Project Manager for Wing.Net, Inc. Wing is an Internet Applications Developer, based in CT and MA.
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Pat. What kinds of applications do you develop?
Pat Patterson -- Wing's main focus is the creation of practical business applications which inherently increase production levels in your company. There are many ways to solve productivity issues, and Wing is in a position to offer expertise in a number of areas.
Richard Seltzer -- Pat, so does that mean you are mainly working on intranet applications? And are any of these applications designed so that they can run smoothly on a "distributed Web site" -- i.e., a single site that has different applications running on different remote pieces of hardware?
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Bob@Cottage. Glad you could make it again.
Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Hello everyone, I am an independent networking consultant in the Dallas Fort Worth area.
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Miki. We're just getting started. Please introduce yourself and let us now your interests.
Miki Dzugan -- My business is Internet Marketing consulting which includes site development. Hello to everyone.
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome Fred Hapgood and "Universal Distributing" -- please introduce yourselves.
Universal Distributing, Inc -- Hello everyone, This is my first time in this chat area. I am a dealer of Panamax power protection equipment. We are a factory registered and factory trained dealer with the largest web site devoted to Panamax on the web. Glad to be here.
Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Hi! My name is Barbara Hartley Seltzer. I am currently unemployed, but interested in the Internet and its capabilities.
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Mark Conway. I know that at Digital you constantly talk to ISPs about their current and future business plans. What trends are you seeing in the direction of value-added services? I'm very bullish about the opportunities. I'd like to test my wishful thinking against reality. What's actually happening out there today?
Ed Jaros -- Hello all. Glad I could join.. even for a partial session.
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Ed. Please dive right in. Do you know of interesting instances of value-added services offered by ISPs or others -- ways you can enhance your Web site through use of add-on services (stuff you don't have to run on your own equipment?)
Richard Seltzer -- All -- are any of you running businesses on hosted Web servers today? Are any of you taking advantage of value-added services from ISPs today? In other words, do you get more from you ISP than basic Web hosting? e.g., electronic store capability or chat/forum or RealAudio, etc.?
Fred Hapgood -- MacAfee is of course the virus guy. The backup service is off his main site, which is probably www.macafee.com or something. I'm not sure about the cost. $10 a month for several megs comes to mind. The backup of the web site is a nice idea. As to the privacy and ownership issue, lots of companies backup their files offsite. This just extends to the service to a new market. I would of course expect everyone to encrypt everything.
Richard Seltzer -- Fred, I'm not familiar with MacAfee's backup service. What's the URL? What do they offer? And, ballpark, what does that cost? Is there just backup of files? Or is there also backup of a Web site so if you go down or have a power failure user access isn't interrupted?
mark conway -- we are seeing isps adding various services such as web hosting, games, telephony, security, etc...
Richard Seltzer -- Mark -- Games? That could be interesting. How does that business model work? Does an ISP host an interactive game for a business client as a way to drive traffic to the site? Or are visitors charged for playing the game? What kind of games?
mark conway -- I think many isps are looking to differentiate themselves and access for 19.95 is now just a basic - they need other services to survive.
Richard Seltzer -- Mark -- Ah "$19.95" monthly fee. Since that's not what I pay, I didn't connect. Can you provide some more detail about the security possibilities? I bet lots of the folks connected now don't know what you may mean by "tunnels/VPN". And what kinds of consulting? And are different levels of security available for different prices? (Hey, I've got to get you typing faster so we can squeeze all this good info out of you quickly.)
Richard Seltzer -- Mark -- pardon my ignorance, what is "access
Also, I'm interested in learning more about the possible security-related value-added services. What can ISPs offer? It seems counter-intuitive -- but is probably right on target -- that for high levels of security (beyond the normal) you might want to outsource certain info and services to an ISP.
mark conway -- Richard - the security can be firewalls, consulting, tunnels/VPN, etc.... this is beyond the $19.95 typicall monthly fees
mark conway -- Gaming area is new, but isps are looking to both drive traffic and to charge of interactoive shoot-out type games.
Miki Dzugan -- I could get interested in a bridge game ISP host. That would be more on-line speed and people interactive. They'd probably need a separate line for kibitzing.
Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Richard, what are your thoughts on some value-added extras that would make an ISP more desirable?
Pat Patterson -- When you are all talking about "Value-added" services, what comes to my mind is service, power back-up, network redundancy, ability to mirror information, security, and professional design. These are all things that Wing.Net actively pursues.
Richard Seltzer -- Pat -- That's a good list. I'd add to it -- Internet telephony and FAX services, meeting facilities (for chat and forums), multimedia capabilities (for live and recorded audio and video). In other words, when a new and potentially very interesting Internet-based application comes along, I'd like the opportunity to test it out as part of my business with an ISP, who offers that capability on a rental/usage basis, on their machines rather than mine. That would give me lots of flexibility, faster startup time, and probably lower operating costs. I'd love to hear of instances of companies doing that. Bob@Cottage, have you tried that kind of thing? Or any of you customers?
Ed Jaros -- Two main value added services that I believe are underutilized and can be used by the general public and companies on their website are Mailing Lists and Autoresponders.
Pat Patterson -- We build autoresponders into most of our extranet apps.
mark conway -- The tunnels and "virtual private networks " are ways to extend an INTRANet with encrypted data and the ability to get through firewalls
mark conway -- The tunnels and "virtual private networks " are ways to extend an what seems attractive to isps is that they can now offer secure "private" IP-based networks to their commercial customers - e.g. the traveling salesperson who needs to link back securely to the main office.
Richard Seltzer -- Mark -- I know what you're driving at, but I want to make sure it's stated in a way that folks unfamiliar with this capability will understand. Let me take a crack at it, and then you please correct me if I'm off track. Many companies today have their employees dial-in to their networks. If they are at a remote location, that might be a long-distance call, and considering Internet sessions tends to be long; that phone bill for tens of thousands of employees could be quite high. As an alternative, the remotely located employee could install "tunnel" software on his/her PC, then connect to a local ISP, and through the ISP connect to the corporate network, securely, with all info being automatically encrypted and unencrypted. That saves on phone costs, and also provides the employee with greater flexibility. Also, when that employee uses the public Web, he/she does it through the ISP rather than adding traffic and cost to the corporate intranet. There are probably many more benefits/uses. That's just meant to give a flavor for it.
Pat Patterson -- We offer tunneling services through MFS (formerly Uunet)
Richard Seltzer -- Pat and Mark -- regarding tunnelling, can you give a thumbnail description of how that helps you create Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and the advantages of that approach?
Pat Patterson -- We currently employ
different types of security to different situations...
For instance, a client was looking for a failsafe plan for proprietary information, so we set them up with a Pix Box. Most others' incentives may be addressed, depending on the information being transfered, by way of packet filtering.
Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- In determining what ISP is needed, it probably depends on whether the customer is an ordinary individual or a company.
Pat Patterson -- Barbara...precisely.
Richard Seltzer -- Dan -- We've mentioned some such services
along the way. (Check the transcript that I'll be posting in the next couple
days at http://www.samizdat.com/#chat)
In general, the major categories seem to be security, telephony, meetings, backup/failover, electronic commerce (on-line store), mail-list hosting/management. Everybody, please add to the list.
Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Richard, I assume you are including Chats in meetings. Another value-added category is statistics on your site, i.e., how many people view your pages, etc.
Dan Jones -- Currently our plan is to focus on Mailing lists, online stores, autoresponders as well as on-site training. For these services would you say the target market would be 'small busineses'?
Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Dan - a few value added services I see for Hosting are (1) SECURITY (2)E-COMMERCE (3)AUDIO (4)VIDEO (5)FRONT PAGE EXTENSIONS (6)LIST SERVER (7)PERSONAL NESWGROUP (8)AUTO RESPONDER to name just a few.
Dan Jones -- Bob, We do support Front Page as well as several others you listed. We are looking into real audio but many have told me that there is not much of a market for it.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob@Cottage -- do you have URLs for companies (non-ISPs) that offer these kinds of services? Yes, of course, you don't have to be an ISP to get into these new services businesses. Anyone with a server on the Internet could. But many ISPs seem to be heading in this direction. Seems like a natural extension of their business.
Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Richard -- I'll check my databases for links to these types of services and send them as a follow up to the chat session.
Pat Patterson -- Richard...just
to finish my thoughts before...
If you need to provide your customers, suppliers, and vendors access to your corporate information via a web interface, Wing.Net can help you implement an Extranet solution that provides the necessary level of protection for your sensitive information. Wing can provide a central hosting location for your data, allowing only authorized clients access. This keeps your highly-sensitive information on a completely separate network, preventing all outsiders from gaining entry to your resources. At the same time, it gives them access to the data they need to operate more efficiently - like real time inventory reports and order status updates.
Richard Seltzer -- Pat -- Sounds like your service is right at the heart of what we want to talk about today. In other words, a company might have a corporate intranet, and might also have a public Web site; but if it decides to make connections to key partners and customers in secure extranet-style, it might choose to run that piece of its Web business off of your servers. Is this service only available on a long-term basis? Or is it possible for a company to take advantage of your service for the duration of a project? E.g.,you get a government contract that's going to run for six months or a year and you want to securely extranetly connect all the partner-participants?
Pat Patterson -- What a great idea, Richard. Short-term contracts are a new spin on things...right now, we are in long-term relationships with clients who are interested in, more than anything else, our forward-mindedness. They like the fact that we are actively pursuing the perfect product.
Richard Seltzer -- Pat -- sounds like you have quite a range of services. I'll have to check your URL.
Pat Patterson -- Thanks...hope you like the page...I wrote most of the copy.
Pat Patterson -- Richard...we are currently developing a site for Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures, a television program seen weekly in every market in the US. Jack is the gentleman you see on Larry King, Letterman, or Maury Povich, with the wild animals. We are doing all of those things for them.
Richard Seltzer -- Pat -- What's the URL for Animal Adventures?
Pat Patterson -- I just fielded a call from the Executive Producer of the show...unfortunately, it is a password-protected site, and I cannot release the URL until September 1. There is, however, a screen capture of the site within our home page...http://www.wing.net
Pat Patterson -- We do a lot of work with clients such as United Technologies, ZBR Publications, etc. on providing anything from FTP sites to work order fulfillment on-line.
Pat Patterson -- Not only that, but the extranet technology can be completely unique to an organization who is looking for an answer to a specific issue.
Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Richard, wouldn't that get expensive using several different providers? Each one has its initial base fee. I'd prefer a one-stop ISP.
Richard Seltzer -- Barb -- I believe the benefit of using multiple providers can come from the flexibility. You aren't likely to find a perfect fit. And even if the services offered today by one provider look great for today's needs; what about tomorrow? I'd like to be able to quickly plug in a new capability as it becomes available and be able to test it out and be a leader, not have to spend time convincing my current provider to install it. And I'd like to be able to flexibly choose and include applications that run on UNIX and other applications that run on NT -- I don't want to have to make lock-in decisions. But that's just me. How do others feel about this speculative business model I'm describing?
Pat Patterson -- Richard - we offer multiple platforms, so when I say one-stop shopping, I mean everything. There is no need to go anywhere else.
Richard Seltzer -- Miki -- I've heard of that dial-in from anywhere service too. Do you recall the company name and URL? Or are there now many heading in that same direction?
Pat Patterson -- Barbara - I think I can help. There are a slew of ISPs out there who can nickel-and-dime you to death, if you allow them. It really depends on your situation...if you see your company growing into the technology in the future, then you might want to go with an ISP who offeres a leased rate on one-stop hosting services...
Richard Seltzer -- Barb -- I think that the sense of privacy and ownership depends entirely on the setup and your sense of confidence in the provider. I guess a large piece of the confidence, long-term, will depend on standard business practices. With a telephone, I can presume that without a court-order nobody, including personnel at the phone company is going to be listening in on my conversation. What are the standard expectations and practices of ISPs regarding the info and services hosted on their systems? If I were signing up for such a service, I'd want the confidentiality/privacy spelled out in the terms, and I'd expect to have legal recourse if the terms were violated. (There are many instances where we reasonably presume privacy and ownership when on other people's property -- in the physical world, when we lease a building.)
Pat Patterson -- Ed...you just have to make sure that the ISP's servers can accept the extensions used in the builder application.
Miki Dzugan -- Ed, about Access97. One of my clients, BiblioWorld, http://www.biblioworld.com, is using Office 97 Access database to maintain the "Authors Web pages" and the glossary of terms. We simply put the html version onto the web page. Since FrontPage is part of Office97 the database connectivity can be used to publish from access data bases. In order to publish FrontPage developed sites the ISP needs to have FrontPage extensions.
Ed Jaros -- Thanks Miki, I'll take a look :-)
Pat Patterson -- I could help you out, Miki...can you email me the specifics of the case, as well as estimates on pricing, required space, etc.?
Miki Dzugan -- Thank you, Pat. I would be delighted. Do you have experience with such a third party host or is this part of your service?
Pat Patterson -- Shayna...yes, you
can use your URL as just an email address.
Such as: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Jones -- Shayna, I agree that most iPS's feel that a domain = hosting. But, many Including myself feel that e-mail is one of the most under rated services of the Internet.
Richard Seltzer -- Shayna, that sounds like a policy rather than a technology issue. I don't know why an ISP would be able to set up just an email address for a domain name (for a price). Then again, why not have a simple Web page too? Many providers now offer free hosted space with a dial-up account.
Ed Jaros -- Shanya, Surprisingly I see a lot of ISP's taking advantage of customers by not telling them that their domain name is an option for their e-mail or they make it unattrative enough for the business to use the ISP's domain name. The catch, free advertising for the ISP & you in trouble $$$ if you leave the ISP and then find out you need to reprint all your forms with your new e-mail.
Pat Patterson -- Ed - you are right...there are a lot of shady people out there. You just have to be able to find some that are trustworthy.
Shayna Keces -- Pat-- The question
is do you offer that as a service even if that
person/company doesn't have a web page. Richard -- yes it is a policy issue and I can think of several reasons why a small business may want a domain name for emailing but not want a web page.
Pat Patterson -- Shayna...I believe that anyone should.
All -- Time is running out. This hour raced by. Please, before you sign off, post your email address and URL, so we can stay in touch with one another (don't count on the software to have captured that info). And please check for the transcript at http://www.samizdat.com/#chat I should have it up by tomorrow (edited, with the threads of discussion reconstructed to make it more readable).
All -- hope you can join us next week for the continuation
(and it looks likely to continue to August 7 as well). Please spread the word to others who might be interested.
Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Bob
Zwick, Cottage Micro Services, 103 Vinyard Drive
Waxahachie, TX 75167 email@example.com http://www.cottagemicro.com
PH: 972-435-2446 FAX: 972-435-2446
Miki Dzugan -- Thank you,
Richard. Miki signing out. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed Jaros -- Ed@Jaros.com Thanks for the Chat and info.
Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Bye. See you next week.
Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Richard -- I have wondered why you don't publish this event to Yahoo - Net Events ?
Richard Seltzer -- Bob@Cottage -- this chat is listed at Yahoo-Net Events. But there is no way to list the individual weekly topics, because it takes them more than a month to add a listing. There's a need for a good registry from live events like this. That's a business opportunity.
Pat Patterson -- email@example.com http://www.wing.net
Shayna Keces -- Shayna Keces signing off firstname.lastname@example.org Internet Info
Dan Jones -- Dan Jones,
Internet Pro's Network LLC, email@example.com
Richard Seltzer -- Thanks to all. See you next week.
From: Euro-Marketing Associates <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Thu, 24 Jul 1997 15:22:11 -0500
Just tuning in in the background while monitoring half a dozen activities. It really wasn't my subject today, and I'm sorry I don't have much to say about ISPs in Europe. As far as I know (I was with the top French ISP, Imaginet, for over a year), all that is offered is the connection, news and email. Hardly anyone in Europe has heard of autoresponders (it'll probably kick in in 1999-2001 -- seriously). Occasionally one hears about mailing lists, but at least in France, one has to go through universities to set them up. (The universities in France were the origin of the Net, and they try to keep as much as they can.)
It is interesting to note, however, that most top European ISPs have a Website that is gigantic in editorial content, and is usually one of the top, most popular Websites to visit. Nearly like each one is trying to be their own C'serve or AOL. Examples: http://www.imaginet.fr, http://www.club-internet.fr, http://www.wanadoo.fr (subsidiary of France Telecom).
Hope this helps.
Bill Dunlap, Euro-Marketing Associates http://www.euromktg.com
A brief article on p. 62 of the July Webmaster magazine describes the service, HomeGate Corp., which currently has 1000 access points in 160 countries which has a plan for international travelers. Their Web site is http://www.homegate.net.
Miki Dzugan, MarkNETing
Thanks, Richard. I had a nice time today.
Here are some URLs of clients of ours...
Talk to you later.
Pat Patterson, Project Manager, Wing.Net, Inc. http://www.wing.net
Terrific topic, Richard!
I hope to be there... (QUESTION BELOW...)
When I'm looking for myself and my business...(as well as my clients) I consider:
1) Specialized platform? (e.g. NT to run Cold Fusion3.0) Capability for middleware products...for web database connectivity
3) Great Online Handbook (so I can get the answers myself!)
4) Technical Support in "English" for my clients
5) Training Availability
Sorry it took so long to get this to you. I did not have much on file re: hosting services, so I ran a quick research report on the subject. I am attaching it as an HTM file.
Bob, Cottage Micro Services, 103 Vinyard Drive, Waxahachie, TX 75167 Cottage Micro Serviceshttp://www.cottagemicro.com
[Ed. note: I reduced that report to the alphabetized list of hyperlinks which follows. It appears that the great majority of these companies are not ISPs, but many of them are providing the same kinds of services that in our chat we referred to as "ISP Value-Added Services."]
On the topic of ISP/web hosting services:
I recommend Budget Web's Filtered Web Hosting lists - virtual domain list athttp://www.budgetweb.com/budgetweb/virtual.shtml You can search for a web host according to about 30 criteria such as Front Page hosting, real audio, secured financial transactions, Java support, mailing list hosting etc.
Also, in response to the question about domain email addresses - a good source for additional email addresses is mailbank.com - where you can choose from about 1800 domains. Some of the the domains are professional (e.g. cyberteacher) and some are surnames. I was able to choose my last name, and get an email address forwarding address based on my name for only $4.95 a year. Not a bad deal!
Also, I now have a web business resource page posted at the end of my web design resource pages - http://www.windweaver.com/searchp10.htm
Tracy Marks email@example.com http://www.windweaver.com
I'd like to point you to a 3-part series of excellent articles by Rivka Tadjer that discuss the costs of running your own commercial web site.
She discusses uncovering the hidden costs of a web site and how to budget for one. The consistent message is, however, do your homework, factor in everything you can think of...and then double the cost. That has been true in my own experience as well, particularly dealing with people who are just getting on the web. Until you are well into the process, they simply don't understand the possibilities. And once they do, then you have more rounds of revision, additional features they want to add, etc., none of which were budgeted up front.
I read some while back that the large commercial sites spend $300,000+ per year to maintain their sites. I wonder whether there are any articles anywhere that address all the variables involved in creating/maintain a web site...kind of a check list...that would help people to budget better up front? Looking forward to the discussion. :)
I came acrossed an article which details services by a major ISP that are exactly what our chat is discussing.
Digex [http://www.digex.net/] Adds Voice, Video Services After Merger with Telephone Company
Take a look at http://www.webweek.com/current/news/19970728-digex.html
Bob Zwick, Cottage Micro Services http://www.cottagemicro.com
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