California Educational Data Processing Association
The DataBus - Vol. 37, No. 1
December, 1996-January, 1997

InterGate v2.5 Offers A Manageable Internet Solution

System: New release offers substantial differences from previous versions.

Dan Shahbazi, Internet Products, Inc.

Internet Products, Inc., an exhibitor at the recent CEDPA Conference, has released its latest InterGate v2.5. The new release is substantially different from version 1.2. with several features specifically developed to meet the unique needs of education.


The new Web-based interface enables an administrator to manage the InterGate through Netscape Navigator with tools that provide a point-and-click environment. The goal, according to company CEO Farley Stewart, was to develop Internet server administration and management that did not rely on a text-based interface. "Users no longer need to know UNIX based commands," said Stewart. "Version 2.5 is much more intuitive, and it has the performance, compatibility and robustness of a UNIX solution without the headaches associated with command lines." Since the InterGate uses a Web-based interface, its management is not platform specific and can be remotely administered with Macs, Windows 3x, Windows 95, Windows NT or UNIX Workstations.


Unlike InterGate v1.2 and other similar Internet servers, InterGate v2.5, according to Stewart, successfully responds to an administrator's challenge of managing a large number of user accounts that require frequent adjustments. "Their situation is further complicated because different types of Internet services like E-mail, Dial-up and Web maintenance typically require a separate interface for user maintenance," Stewart said. "The end result requires administrators to enter the same user's information for each different Internet service." To overcome these redundancies the InterGate provides template based account maintenance that controls each type of Internet service at the user level. "For a given user account administrators can enable or disable each Internet service for the user from the same window." InterGate's ability to manage user accounts is further enhanced with its group management function. Stewart said the template allows administrators to manage users as one group. "This makes it easy to change user group services, disable access or even delete the entire group." According to Stewart, another area deemed critical for education is the ability to monitor Web access. InterGate v2.5 enables an administrator to require users to enter a user name and password to access the Web. The InterGate will then create retrievable logs that provide a transcript of all Web activities by workstation and user name. "Educators want to prevent users from accessing certain Internet sites," he said. "InterGate gives schools a way to enforce acceptable use policies and monitor Web activity."


Internet Products gathered feedback about managing DNS from educational technologists and administrators and found several areas that needed improvement, according to Stewart. "County offices, districts and schools want their own domain on the Internet, but the process tends to be cumbersome," he said. InterGate v2.5 can establish separate identities for each hierarchy of an organization allowing an unlimited number of domains and subdomains. "Instead of being identified by an ISP domain name," said Stewart, "specific domain identifications can be easily established that are unique to the organization."


Many information managers and educators are investigating alternative methods to update web pages. The common method is to upload files to a particular directory on the Web server using FTP. According to Internet Products' Director of Engineering Bob Crowe, this is a viable method but it is awkward, tedious and error prone. InterGate v2.5 will directly map Web pages to a network drive using either Ethertalk or Microsoft Networking Protocol. "This greatly eases Web management because the process becomes a simple 'save as' operation from your HTML editor," Crowe said. According to Stewart, the key to updating web pages rests in an organization's ability to offer Web page areas for each of their schools. "Version 2.5 makes it possible for school districts to create individual Web page areas that can be independently managed by the schools themselves." The InterGate will create appropriate directories, assign relevant permissions and permit a specific user or group to access a protected area.


InterGate v2.5 has an integrated Web Site Cache that can save previously accessed web information. "This eliminates the need to contact a particular site multiple times," Stewart said. The true benefit, according to Crowe, is decreased access time. "If you transfer less data over your Internet connection you reduce the access time and bandwidth requirements." The InterGate's Web Site Cache has a self-learning process that automatically checks cache integrity and removes old documents. According to Stewart, this ensures that cache is consistently refreshed. A Web Site Cache will allow a lesson planner to retrieve Internet data in advance and save the information on the InterGate. Students can then access the information from the InterGate without having to download it from the original site again. Internet Products will setup a demo account to provide hands-on experience with the InterGate. For more information about demo accounts e-mail a request to . Further information about the InterGate and Internet Products can be reached at http://www.ipinc.com or call 888-INTERGATE.
Dan Shahbazi is with Internet Products, Inc., and may be reached by e-mail at .

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