Allen-Bradley Inc, Rockwell International’s Chicago factory automation systems and equipment company, has launched a number of Ethernet-based networking products, which takes it beyond the factory automation market to tie into the office. The company is looking for a higher profile in Europe and repositioning itself in recognition that if a company that made its reputation on logic controllers is to survive into the 1990s, it must be able to link its factory automation products into the office. It has signed an OEM agreement with Bridge Communications for its range of local area networking products, including servers, gateways, network controllers and personal computer products for CSMA/CD protocols running on broadband technology and Ethernet on baseband. The products support one of two sets of higher protocol, XNS, Xerox Network Systems, or TCP/IP, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. The servers are supported by gateways that may link Ethernet to Ethernet, Ethernet to broadband and Ethernet running on broadband to private line, X25 or fibre optic link. Allen-Bradley is calling the range VistaLan/3 to add to its Vistalan/1 for terminal support using token passing rather than CSMA/CD, VistaLan/PC, which is a version of Novell’s Advanced Netware running on broadband, and VistaMap, which is the company’s own-designed Manufacturing Automation Protocol, MAP, system. The Cimap exhibition in December 1986 was based on version 2.1 of the MAP protocol, but the real crunch for MAP is in its next version, 3.0, which includes network management facilities and should give rise, therefore, to some marketable products, says UK sales manager Mike Gannaway. The specification for version 3.0 was announced on 24 April and it is to be the basis of an exhibition to be held in Baltimore, Maryland in June 1988. Manufacturers have a year to get their acts together and have products ready in one year’s time. Allen-Bradley currently has an 8% share of the UK local area networking market and 10% to 12% of the European market according to Frost and Sullivan, which puts the European market at UKP150m.
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