IBM is clearly worried about the way its Unix strategy has been greeted with a certain amount of scepticism from the press, so whenever members of the Unix development team are allowed out of the labs they are wheeled out to explain IBM’s real intentions to journalists. In March, Unix guru Andrew Heller did the rounds to clarify Big Blue’s attempts to position its AIX Unix implementation as a parallel strategic platform alongside its proprietary Systems Applications Architecture product lines. Last week, Jerry Latta, Group Director of Technical Computing Systems and Clay Cipione, Manager of Advanced Systems Development at the Entry Systems Division in Austin, Texas were visiting Europe and saying much the same thing. We’re only two years into the development of the 6150 – that’s 1983 in PC terms, said Cipione, claiming that the clock speed of the RT’s chip would be boosted up beyond the current 10MHz in future announcements, allowing the RT to compete more favourably with other RISC-based hardware. The announcement of the AIX family definition earlier this year, clearing the way for near identical AIX implementations on the PS/2, 6150 and 370 Series, has generated a greater response than expected, according to AIX/370 Development Manager Tom Dow. There is a pent-up demand for mainframe Unix, particularly as a server for departmental Unix systems. With a variety of hardware platforms underneath AIX, IBM is not surprisingly luke-warm about the issue of binary compatibility, with Latta claiming that we already have what 99% of users care about with a consistent user and programmer interface across the platforms: the success of Unix has been based on source level compatibility. Latta also said that IBM would be in a position to reveal its policy on a graphical user interface for AIX within the next few months, and also promised announcements on second-generation RISC technology, but would give no dates. Meanwhile, IBM would be grateful if everyone would please stop doubting its whole-hearted commitment to open systems. The market’s no longer trivial, said Latta, and our customers – and non-customers – want IBM to play.
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