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March 23, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

There are few more convincing – and convinced – zealots than IBMers in charge of a specific product line within the company’s vast portfolio, so it is always dangerous to read too much into what they say about their own particular product. The IBM Personal Computer was the merest joke compared with the (8085 based) System 23 to the guy who’d designed the latter machine and came over to the UK to promote it. VM was at last getting equal investment with MVS back in 1984 according to the lady in charge of VM. Yet today, Dr Barnado’s homes couldn’t hold all the pitiful orphans created by System 23, and new VM releases still lag their MVS counterparts by a minimum 18 months. Last week IBM UK wheeled out one of its US parent’s Unix gurus to express unequivocally IBM’s commitment to Unix standards following the launch of AIX/370 (CI No 889) – and he declared roundly that the company’s allegiance in the Unix world is to Unix first and Systems Applications Architecture second. The first problem with that declaration is that it muddies the SAA water even further, and is likely to instill near panic in true blue users who have made an emotional committment to SAA from MVS downwards. The second is that while it is certainly believed in Austin, Texas, where Arthur Goldberg is director of planning and market development for the Advanced Engineering Systems unit of Entry Systems Division, is it equally believed in Armonk? And the answer to that is only time will tell. Goldberg said IBM will stay consistent with Unix standards in its development of products for the AIX environment, but added that despite talks with the X/Open Ltd applications standards group, IBM remains sceptical about putting its full weight behind an organisation that requires mandatory compliance to standards that have not yet been set. IBM hopes to establish an overlap of between 85% and 95% between Unix standards and its proprietary Systems Applications Architecture. Despite its increased commitment to Unix, IBM said that it has no plans to support AIX on the forthcoming Silverlake successor to System 38: the company’s strategy for AIX is to develop facilities for users established in the Unix envi-ronment who are attracted by its porting capabilities. We are providing a competitive family of offerings, which are consistent with Unix standards and which meet with customer requirements and expectations, Goldberg said.

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