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  1. Technology
October 1, 1991


By CBR Staff Writer

Auspex Systems Inc, based in Santa Clara, California, claims that it has around 180 of its NS 5000 and NS 3000 Unix Network File System servers installed. Some 60% of them are engaged on software development and 30% on integrated circuit design – on average, the systems are hooked up to 15Gb of disk. Most of the boxes are in the US, some 40 or so are in Japan, while Motorola Inc has two at its plant in Cork, Ireland, and the European Space Research Corp one in Munich. Fuji Xerox serves OEM customers in Japan, while Nissho Electronics distributes them over there. The firm is currenly on the hunt for UK distributors, and says it’ll follow with French, German and Scandinavian resellers. The Network File System servers harness Sun Microsystems Inc Sparcstations running SunOS as the host processing element. Up to eight Ethernet networks can be administered by an Ethernet processor, and a file processor based on BSD 4.3 – separate from the SunOS front end – handles all Network File System operations. The firm does not currently supply a database with its machines, but says it will get the likes of Ingres, Informix and Oracle certified on the systems next year via its membership of the Sparc International lobby group. Sometime after it’ll likely begin to offer the NS range as high-end Network File System database servers, and by then, they will be able to accomodate up to 10 Ethernet networks. Auspex’s director of technology, Bruce Nelson, was responsible for the first generation of remote procedure call technology when he was at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the early 1980s. It’s taken much longer than expected to establish the remote procedure call as a standard networking protocol because of the two different implementations that subsequently emerged one in Sun’s Open Network Computing environment, the other in Apollo’s Network Computing System. He reckons Network File System is shaping up to become the Systems Network Architecture of the 1990s, and despite initial implementation problems, he believes Sun is moving the technology in the right direction via its road map. Auspex currently uses Sparcstation 1+ equivalent host technology with the SunOS 4.0.3 operating system – it will move to SunOS 4.1.1 soon, and expects to go over to System V.4 some six to nine months after Sun. Nelson says the firm will track Sun’s recent performance developments and will move to a higher specification host system – and a multi-processing architecture – over time, though no timescales were specified. Auspex says it has had interest from many third party Sparc chip and board suppliers that would like to see their technology being tested in high-end Network File System environments, but Nelson says no deals have been inked so far. He says the company is also interested in taking RISC technologies from the likes of Hewlett-Packard Co and IBM Corp, if it were to be approached.

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