IBM Reveals Edge of Network Strategy

IBM has begun to articulate its Edge of Network (EON) strategy, which joins servers, desktops, and laptops with the next generation of portable, wearable, and multifunction devices that will interoperate with modern PC networks. These EON devices—so-called because they sit at the edge of users' networks—include devices that rely heavily on the developing broadband and wireless networking technologies: Internet appliances, Net server appliances, future Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), multifunction phones, and wearable computers. The EON initiative is a logical extension of IBM's Pervasive Computing strategy from a few years ago. EON devices include so-called legacy-free products, systems without serial or parallel ports that rely on USB and FireWire connections. According to IBM, EON devices are those that allow optimization and customization for users and are e-business ready, effortless to use, and in both the consumer and business markets. Several vendors have released PCs of this type, including Dell and Compaq. Among the several devices that IBM has begun to show are a broadband-enabled Internet appliance that lets telephone companies, ISPs, and ASPs set up and brand specifically for their service. Devices of this type will have vertical screens to better display Web pages. As part of the EON strategy, industry watchers expect IBM to begin modifying its ThinkPad laptops in the second quarter of 2000 by adding Bluetooth wireless support and a built-in video camera. IBM's WorkPad, a version of the 3Com Palm PDA, will also come with Bluetooth. Bluetooth enables wireless transmission for up to 30 feet at speeds up to 1Mbps, and industry watchers expect it to be a viable alternative to office network wiring. IBM hopes to provide end-to-end solutions that lead to major contracts based on the company's hardware, consulting, and services businesses. IBM plans to partner with telephone companies, ISPs, and application service providers (ASPs) in these projects. IBM will brand the EON strategy and promote it heavily with advertising. Many of the EON hardware devices will come from IBM's Personal Systems Group. These devices represent a change in direction to turn IBM into "the leader in the user device space in the post-2000 era," one IBM executive said. IBM, a strong presence in the thin-client/server market, has thin-client devices that run Linux, Windows-Based Terminal (WBT), and Windows 2000 (Win2K). David McAughtry, vice president of marketing for EON and Net Devices, said, "This is an all-encompassing strategy, not a war between network computers and PCs. It's not a jihad of one architecture against another; we'll use any technology: Windows, Windows 2000, Linux, Windows CE. It's immaterial to us." IBM plans to support Red Hat Linux, SuSE Linux, and TurboLinux.

TAGS: Windows 8
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