Andreessen looks forward - as Opsware looks to Europe

The browser wars seem such a long time ago...
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

The browser wars seem such a long time ago...

Opsware has opened a European HQ in London and chairman Marc Andreessen, best known as the co-founder of Netscape, has called the data centre automation company a logical step in both the advancement of IT and his career. Nasdaq-listed Opsware was formed when Loudcloud's managed services business was spun off to EDS last summer. The remaining software company became Opsware, a vendor which claims to be able to save up to around 60 per cent in data centre costs by automating the setting up, running, patching and tracking of assets such as servers. The Opsware software came out of internal technology developed at Loudcloud and now it is sold directly as well as through partners including BEA, HP, Microsoft and Sun, whose CEO Scott McNealy is well-known for sharing an Opsware concern - that we can't all become sysadmins to keep IT running manually. In the dot-com boom era organisations were buying "giant jumbo pizzas with all the toppings" said Andreessen, commenting on IT hardware that often goes unutilised now. He claims the Opsware offering is part of a maturing industry. Although ostensibly in London to speak at a conference and launch Opsware's latest base - in a continent-wide systems management software market that IDC reckons will be worth $2.6bn by 2007 - Andreessen emphatically denied his chairman tag will see him spreading his workload to newer ventures. He also pointed out Netscape, before its break up and sale to AOL and Sun in the late nineties, made most of its money from selling web server and application server technology rather than browsers. This makes it unfair to say he leaped from being 'the inventor of the web browser' to IT automation, said Andreessen. "There was a natural continuity," he said. He also took the opportunity to bemoan the current state of the web browser market. "There's no innovation because there's no competition," he told silicon.com. "Navigation should be about more than back, forward and bookmarks. Hypertext in the 1970s and 1980s was more advanced than today." He said Netscape had been looking at integrating into the browser features such as sophisticated graphics, multimedia players, search, IM and offline features - "only we ran out of time". Microsoft owns over 90 per cent of the browser market nowadays. It recently settled a lawsuit with AOL Time Warner, Netscape's now parent, by paying $750m. The settlement will see AOL use Microsoft Internet Explorer. Meanwhile, Microsoft has announced plans to stop selling the product by itself and Apple will no longer use IE but its own browser, codenamed Safari. The other main player - though it has less than 2 per cent share - is Norway-based Opera.
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