John Foxe, managing director of Sydney-based network integrator TeleSystems, says the future of networking is already upon us. "The migration of application processing away from the desktop and toward the file system points the way forward for network integration," he said. "The benefits to clients [from such a change] are tremendous: increased performance, more efficient use of bandwidth and savings. Anyone who's resisting that trend probably won't be in business for very much longer."
Foxe says TeleSystems, formed in 1983, specialises in providing network solutions for a wide range of organisations, with particular emphasis on the education and health care markets. "I've seen a lot of people come and go in this business, and I think one of the things those companies that stick around have in common is the ability to focus on a specific market or markets," he said.
So trying to be "everything to everyone" is a recipe for failure? "I'd say so," Foxe said. "You're better off trying to be 'excellent to some people'. If anything, it's more a matter of trying to define what you don't want to do, than what you do want to do. There's no shortage of areas to get into, products to handle and so on. I think people, too often, allow themselves to be distracted from their core expertise."
Back to school
TeleSystems' core expertise tends to revolve around the education and health care markets, although Foxe says the company has made significant inroads in to the banking, corporate and government sectors.
On the education front, many of TeleSystems' installations involve providing students, teachers and administrators with remote dial-up access to school network resources, Foxe said. In addition, the company is often called to link split sites - such as large campuses separated by roads, or linking primary and infants schools to a nearby high school's network in order to share library, CD-ROM and Internet gateway resources.
"Multimedia is taken for granted in schools, and, in that sense, schools are way ahead of the corporate sector in terms of computers," Foxe said. "However, the school market is incredibly price driven and people aren't always prepared to accept that you get what you pay for. It's a volume sales market, but the expectations from customers are very high."
TeleSystems provides similar wireless networking solutions for hospitals, albeit of a slightly more urgent nature. Foxe says the company specialises in creating "wireless wards that allow hospitals and medical centres to have connection to the network from anywhere in the building - the wards, admission centre, patient bedside or emergency room, even in the ambulance at driveway arrival point," he said.
Indeed, TeleSystems recently won a contract to supply NSW's new Children's Hospital with 350 Compaq ProLinea 575 computers, ahead of eight other suppliers.
What's next for Novell?
Although it maintains close relationships with Compaq, Toshiba, Microsoft, Citrix and Hypertec, TeleSystems' partnership with Novell is perhaps its most important. TeleSystems is a NetExpert, and IntraNetware, GroupWise, ManageWise and InForms account for a large percentage of the company's sales. "I brought the first Novell Network into Australia and I've been working with them since they were a 22-person outfit in Orem, Utah," he said. "Our relationship with Novell is key to what we do."
What does Foxe make of reports that Novell is in decline vis-a-vis Microsoft, to say nothing of the rumours that Netscape is preparing to swallow Novell whole?
"Well, I can't predict any takeovers that might occur but, as far as Microsoft goes, I can tell you I think Novell's products are superior. Then again, Microsoft's marketing clout is incredible, and that can't be discounted. It's a complex business and there are not a lot of people in a position to make truly informed decisions and, in those instances, marketing is often going to win out.
"But any organisation that is looking to do real State-wide intranet linking is much better off using the directory structures of Novell than they are Microsoft," he said.
"However, I think the ultimate solution is a combination of the two: leave the application processing with NT and put the networking infrastructure on NetWare - that would be the very best solution."
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