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November 16, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Corp is keen to persuade us that it has established a firm presence in the client-server market and we only still perceive it as a mainframe supplier because the word just hasn’t spread far enough. Earlier this year IBM set out an Open Blueprint, its set of guidelines that define the technical architecture needed for IBM’s product to interoperate with non-IBM products within a client-server framework, in response to what it regarded as a desperate lack of architecture and standards in the client-server arena. The Blueprint is intended to demonstrate just how open some of its products such as the DB2 relational database, the CICS transaction processing monitor and its MQSeries messaging and queuing products, really are. IBM is keen to emphasise that the systems architecture outlined in the Blueprint marks a strict departure from its Systems Application Architecture which defined an architecture for interconnecting IBM products only. IBM says that it has levered a global approach to client-server through its Open Systems Centre of which there are 60 worldwide, 21 of which are in Europe. The centres were established to enable IBM customers to prototype and test client-server set-ups from all of the major players that produce client-server software. IBM stresses that the centres are not, however, a convenient sales channel to promote its own client-server products. The centres act as repositories for IBM’s latest client-server consultancy tool, the Client-Server Advisory System, a consulting and sales support tool that the company designed to help minimise the problems associated with the implementation of client-server systems. Based on information gathered from over 100 implementations of client-server systems, the database has five main tools.

Areas of improvement

The Business Advisor Tool highlights the business and management aspects to client-server in that it helps to identify potential areas of improvement in order to increase the likelihood of success in a client-server project. The client-server library is a central repository for all client-server information and includes advice papers, consultant reports, customer references and independent vendor product information. The Design Advisor Tool offers conceptual system design alternatives including distributed data, application and business logic and workgroup servers. The Toolkit Browser Tool enables users to cross reference a particular client-server set up with other similiar set ups that have been implemented successfully. The information displayed within the browser tool includes run-time, management, application development products and finally the Toolkit Submitter tool that enables the details of some successful client-server systems to be input into the database. The Design Advisor Tool is currently being used in 75% of the company’s Open Systems Centres.

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