The powerful alliance of BT, MCI, Concert and Microsoft has laid down a huge challenge to would-be rivals for intranet managed services. The group said today it would provide intranet services based on open Internet standards and using Microsoft Back Office, Commerce and Exchange servers at the back end, and Internet Explorer 3.0 at the front-end. The service is expected to be running from early in 1997.
"The demand for intranets is exploding," said Steven Von Rump, senior vice president of data architecture at MCI. "BT and MCI are natural leaders as we are currently carrying over 40 per cent of Internet traffic. We believe that intranets will make up more than half of Internet business ... on a global basis we expect it to be $28 billion of a $43 billion Internet market by the year 2000. Intranets are a very simple way to connect enterprises together because of the IP standard and and ubiquitous access to the Internet. [The Internet today is] an ad hoc collection of networks, and performance and security are key ... [customers] need a service provider that can pull all the pieces together. There is no other capability that exists like this."
However, the communications firms didn't write off the possibility of alliances with other software suppliers "Clearly, there will be customers who don't want off-the-shelf capabilities," said Rupert Gavin, director of multimedia and Internet services at BT.