California Educational Data Processing Association
The DataBus - Vol. 37, No. 2
February-March, 1997

Internet Products Serves Up More Than Sophisticated Technology

InterGate: Software offers a viable Internet connectivity solution for many.

Dan Shahbazi, Internet Products, Inc.

It is fair to say that the Internet is a dynamic and effective resource that is seen as a necessity in educational curricula. This has created a highly publicized urgency for schools to enter Cyberspace quickly. Concurrent with this is the need to gain the necessary funding for Internet access. The educational community may face a multitude of problems if it begins to react abruptly to this urgency. These problems center around support of an Internet connection. Schools that opt to use multiple vendors to provide the necessary hardware and software may face support nightmares in this arena.

According to Farley Stewart, President of Internet Products, Inc., the ongoing success of his company is based on unique and effective customer support that is paired with the technical sophistication of the InterGate, the nationally awarded turnkey Internet server. There are many companies that provide the services and management tools that assist the educational community in building its own Internet solutions. Although these may be viable options in terms of satisfying a physical connection, they can be problematic in terms of support.

"Internet technology is available to any company that wishes to put forth the energy to develop an Internet solution," Stewart said. "The difference that keeps our customer referrals high is the level of support that's behind our solution."

Scott Bain, System Administrator at KFMB-TV in San Diego said, "The reason we went with an InterGate was the support we get from the company. The product is great, but the difference is in the support experience."

According to Anthony Frey, Associate Technology Editor at Network Computing magazine, the InterGate fits snugly with the level of support that Stewart said is vital to a turnkey Internet solution. "As a turnkey system, Internet Products' InterGate is setting a standard," Frey said. "This is most evident in the advanced set of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) pages used for system administration, which were the best we've seen."

Stewart said that many companies tout themselves as having a turnkey Internet solution. "The notion of a turnkey solution," Stewart said, "is becoming more broadly defined. In my mind turnkey means an all encompassing solution that is easy to manage and highly supported."

Frey, who authored "How The Latest Internet Servers Are Stacking Up" in the October 15 issue of Network Computing magazine wrote, "We found the ease of use and innovation of Internet Products' InterGate Internet Server 2.5 made it an exceptional package of which an organization looking to get its feet wet on the Internet can immediately take advantage."

Internet Products received Network Computing's Editor's Choice award for plug-and-play Internet servers in October, competing head-to-head with companies that included Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, IBM and Apple.

The Build-Your-Own Syndrome

Many vendors are offering "build-your-own" Internet solutions, where one vendor might provide DNS and another provides a Web server, for example. Many schools see this as a cost effective way to gain Internet access. Difficulty and problems arise when a facet of this multi-vendor solution fails. In this situation, which Stewart says is happening quite often, technical administrators must contact multiple vendors to diagnose the system problem.

If an educational organization builds its own solution it will likely need to hire costly contractors to diagnose and fix the problem. When this same organization buys an InterGate Internet server, according to Stewart, it also buys the necessary support. This way, if a problem arises, the solution is literally a phone call away. "With Internet Products the value of a single solution is increased because much of the support given is accomplished remotely and quickly," he said.

"We are aware of at least 50 schools, districts or COEs in California that have solutions in place with other vendors but are less than satisfied with the level of support being provided," Stewart said. The outcome to this is additional, unwarranted expenses. "They will either hire the appropriate contractor to fix the problem, or they will replace their current solution with a new one," Stewart said. "Either way, additional expenses are incurred that were avoidable if proper support was in place at the beginning."

Another obstacle, according to Stewart, can be vendors who offer Internet connection solutions that are different based on configuration and platform needs. He said these vendors will need to establish different support criteria for each system in the field. Internet Products has removed this obstacle by developing a single device that can be used in a multitude of configurations and platforms. The end result is one, globally used product that relies on the same support. This is a unique feature of InterGate, and it is cost effective for the company; the support criteria and service is standardized, which creates a more efficient support channel.

This is why Stewart claims that the success of Internet Products is based on support. "The InterGate is a single device that dissolves the need to use multiple vendors," he said. "Customer feedback continues to acknowledge this."

All InterGates are shipped with a lifetime support contract via email. This means a user may send in support questions and receive answers via email. 90 days of phone support and upgrades are also included, and Internet Products offers one year parts and labor on all InterGates.

This support offer is included with the purchase price of InterGate.

Internet Products offers added support features that 95 percent of InterGate customers purchase. Nearly 100 percent of customers wanting enhanced support will purchase a one year support contract. This is a unique feature that includes phone support, free software upgrades, and next day hardware replacement. "There aren't many companies we're aware that provide free software upgrades with a support contract," said Stewart. "The inclusion of complete software upgrades with extended support contracts makes this support feature a powerful way to eliminate product obsolescence," he added.

For further information about Internet Products or the InterGate, call 888-InterGate (468-3742) or visit the company's Web site at http://www.ipinc.com.

Dan Shahbazi is Public Relations Manager for Internet Products, Inc., and may be reached by telephone at (619) 576-4100 x 100 or by FAX at (619) 576-4111. His e-mail address is [email protected].

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