In the UK, hardware vendors are facing increasingly bleak prospects in their relationships with large system users as their most rewarding customers begin to take advantage of the long-vaunted benefits of open systems, reports our sister publication, the UK monthly Unix News magazine. We are telling hardware vendors ‘you’re not strategic any more,’ said Don Feldman of British Petroleum Plc, who is leading the company’s devolution from mainframes to distributed systems in Europe. We no longer need those kinds of relationships. BP is implementing its core transaction systems using Oracle Corp’s Oracle Financials and the UniFace generator, having dumped previous development work carried out using Software AG products, said Feldman, speaking at a recent Price Waterhouse seminar in London. As for hardware, BP has opted for Sequent Computer Systems Corp kit at its sites in Hamburg, Paris, Hemel Hempstead and Brussels, but is keeping its options open. The choice of hardware is very difficult – we’ve not made them all yet. The beauty is, you no longer have to do so at the start. Ian Brand, an information technology group manager at National Grid, which is responsible for moving electricity across the UK over the grid system, has a similar philosophy. My idea of open systems is to buy software from anybody, run it on anything and ditch it for something else if need be. It’s an ideology. Brand is working on putting a workstation on every desk with one point of data entry and seamless integration. The company already has IBM Corp kit, ICL Plc DRS 6000s, Digital Equip ment Corp DECsystem-5000s, some 40 Sequent machines and a Pyramid Technology Corp box, not to mention Sun Microsystems Inc workstations. It is currently getting rid of four Amdahl Corp mainframes running UTS Unix, said Brand. Mean while, the Inland Revenue is re-equipping with ICL, Philips Data Systems Ltd and Bull HN Inf ormation Systems Ltd Unix kit. Its 32 ICL mainframes are likely to be replaced by distri buted open systems over the next four years, according to Colin Thompson, deputy director of information technology at the tax gatherer.
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