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  1. Technology
February 16, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

IBM Corp yesterday took its first step towards saving the AS/400 from going the way of the mainframe when it accompanied the new F models with a string of software offerings and initiatives designed to make the machine sit more comfortably as a database server in an open systems environment. It also has a new non-upgradable entry model, the 9402 A02, which supports up to seven workstations and is about UKP6,000 with OS/400 – available only in the UK, Italy and one or two other European markets not the US or Japan. The new 2.3 release of OS/400, due to ship at year-end, is a prerequisite for most of the software improvements. The four areas of software improvement are openness and Posix compliance; language support; distributed client-server computing; and systems management. The structure of OS/400 and the hardware are being remodelled not only to look and behave more like Unix, but actually be more like Unix; with commitment to support the four basic level Posix standards, 1003.1 to 1003.4, IBM says Posix will be central to the re-design of OS/400, built into the licensed internal code beneath the machine interface level. The proprietary AS/400 processes, which IBM says are more resilient, will be supplemented with Posix processes. On languages, IBM is is replacing its original program models for C and Cobol and its extended program model for RPG with the Integrated Language Environment, so that in OS/400 2.3 there will be a common block of routines and procedures that all language compilers use. Dire C/400 performance should improve dramatically with compilation times at least halved. The Environment will also make it possible to call up other programs faster, whatever language they are written in. There are new ILE/C400, ILE/Cobol 400, and ILE/RPG400 compilers, but apart from C, not until next year. The open client initiative involves co-operative development work and marketing agreements, primarily in the US, with many key personal computer software and hardware suppliers. Showcase Vista from Rochester Software Connection Inc will make it possible to extract data and manage it using the Macintosh; and an IBM-Apple facility called shared folders will enable Mac and AS/400 files to be managed together on the desktop. Access from Windows and MS-DOS machines will be possible from Oracle, using SQL*Connect, from Showcase using Microsoft Corp’s Open Database Connectivity. OS/2 machines will be able to access the AS/400 using enhanced Rumba and Showcase software, with other tools to be announced and the RS/6000 can connect as a client using the TCP/IP File Server Support/400 program and Connection Program/6000. There is a new implementation of Network File System. On management, IBM has been working with Candle Corp, and will be offering Omegamon/400 for monitoring AS/400 resources; Automated Facilities/400, for automatically managed AS/400 jobs; Omegaview/400, giving a single workstation view of the entire network. On the F models, with the 9406 models using a new BiCMOS CPU, IBM claims performance gains of up to 60% – a 15% to 45% range is more realistic, with the F50 the star – at about the same price as the E models they replace. CMOS models are out now, BiCMOS in May.

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