The distance between where IBM is and where it needs to be if it is to win users’ support for its crucial Systems Applications Architecture is so great that the company is having to buy in technology to bridge the gap. And for an easy-to-use front-end system to enable unskilled executives to access corporate data, it has turned to six-year-old Metaphor Computer Systems in Mountain View, California, paying a reported $15m for an unspecified equity stake. The stake is unlikely to be a big one, because Metaphor has raised a total of $60m in equity investment, and had filed to go public last October when Meltdown Monday intervened. Don Massaro, then head of Xerox Corp’s Office Systems unit, left with one of his general managers, David Liddle to form Metaphor, and two years later announced its concept, which was aimed squarely at the Information Centre market IBM had identified for itself (CI No 23). The system consists of Ethernetwork-ed workstations linked to file, database and communications servers. The workstations are based on the 68000 family and run a proprietary operating system putting up an icon and-mouse user interface similar to that of the Xerox Star and Apple Mac. It was designed specifically to pull down data from IBM hosts under VM and MVS – exactly the role conceived for the IBM Information Centre. IBM wants Metaphor to develop a version of its software to run under OS/2 Exten ded Edition on 80386 based PS/2s to access relational databases on IBM 9370s and other machines. Any new products developed under the joint project will be marketed by IBM, and Metaphor will continue to mark et its current line, which has some 125 installations. The Metaphor systems already link to Teradata and Britton-Lee database machines.