Umang Gupta, chairman of Menlo Park, California-based Gupta Technologies Inc, has been in London to promote his company’s approach to the client-server architecture among corporate data processing managers. In particular he was speaking about personal computer links to IBM’s DB2 database, which Gupta says has a 95% market share of the mainframe database market, while Oracle is in pole position in the multi-user market. Gupta intends to offer co-operative processing, at the personal computer level, with Oracle and DB2. By co-operative processing he said he meant running application programs on personal computers that could transparently access databases on the mainframe and minicomputer via SQL. Gupta believes that while dumb terminals will, in the corporate environment, be replaced by smart personal computers, data will remain centralised. He argued that cost will not be a factor in this front end system change, rather it will be driven by graphical user interfaces. In his opinion graphical interfaces are set to take off in a big way in the service industries. He suggested that the time will soon come when customers will be able to choose their own plane seat by pointing to a picture of the interior of the plane on a personal computer screen; he added that it is also not beyond the realms of possibility to believe that one day people will sign cheques on a personal computer screen, eliminating the need for cheque books and cards altogether. However, he maintains that for security reasons, information has to be kept centralised. Gupta is working towards an environment where processing is done locally with the database remaining central. This strategy emphasises SQL back-ends, since Structured Query Language makes it possible to develop local area network database servers, enables the development of engine-independent application tools and provides unified access to micro, mini and mainframe databases. However, as Gupta pointed out, SQL is not a programming language – you can’t simply plug in a SQL system and play, as there are more varieties of SQL than there are of Unix. The main problem lies with language syntax compatibility, but also there are no standard application programming interfaces for SQL. Gupta believes that IBM’s DB2 and OS/2 pre-compilers are likely to emerge as de facto standards rather than call-level SQL. Consequently, Gupta Technologies is building front-ends to link to multiple back-ends connected to the host machine via SNA Advanced Program-to-Program Communications. Gupta sees the server market split evenly three ways over the next few years, divided between Novell NetWare, OS/2 and Unix. Gupta Technologies already has its OS/2 products, and is working with Sun Microsystems to build servers for Unix System V.3. Novell, which recently took a stake in Gupta, has put the pressure on for Gupta to develop APPC modules for NetWare 386. Both products should be out by the end of the year.