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February 17, 1993

IN AN AGE OF NON-PROPRIETARY OPERATING SYSTEMS, PROLOGUE CONTINUES TO PROSPER IN FRANCE

By CBR Staff Writer

In December, Novell Inc in France took on its first software specialist value-added reseller, software publisher Prologue SA, to try and boost the number of applications up under NetWare in the country. Although the deal was signed with Novell France alone, Prologue can also distribute its products to all Novell’s European subsidiaries, and other branches have the option to follow suit. Based in Les Ulis, near Paris, Prologue has been around for 15 years and was formerly a subsidiary of Compagnie des Machines Bull SA.

Cemetary management

Although its operating system, Prologue, is proprietary, the $20m-a-year company boasts an installed base of about 1,000 service companies throughout Europe, and 2,000 or so applications for markets both usual – banking, insurance, law and unusual – cemetary management, horticulture and physiotherapy. According to manager of partner relations for Novell France, Frederic Tourisseau, his company took the plunge because Up until now we were lacking a distribution channel that could supply vertical market applications. He said Our importer and manufacturing distributors have a more horizontal distribution strategy; they are experts in NetWare in their areas, namely hardware, boards, streamers, and general communications, but their aim is not to supply applications. Prologue is an important player in France, and this agreement was the result of our desire to make all the applications developed under ABAL – Prologue’s application development environment – operational under NetWare. Another impetus for the agreement, according to Prologue’s executive sales director Jean-Pierre Birepinte was that Prologue’s software comprises mainly management applications. These complement perfectly the existing NetWare packages, he says, which consist largely of office automation products. So that Prologue’s software could run under NetWare, Prologue, in partnership with Paris-based Austral Informatique SA, developed a NetWare version of ABAL, which runs on the server. We really don’t have any other application development environments out there like ABAL, Tourisseau said, I mean, there’s Oracle and our own product Btrieve, and of course all languages are good under NetWare. But something like ABAL? No. Obviously, it is not just Novell that gains from the agreement. In an age of open systems, it is important for Prologue that its operating system gains access to the industry-standard MS-DOS world represented by Novell, commented Annik Bonnefemme, Prologue’s director of marketing.

By Marsha Johnston

But, she added, Prologue does not intend to dump its own operating system; We will continue with Prologue because we have the means to communicate with other operating systems. Indeed it has just announced a new release of the system. Prologue multi-user system technology v5, a new version of its micro-based operating system that the company says provides support for more users, greater resource sharing, security and compatibility with other market standards. With a more tightly integrated OSILAN Open network architecture, Prologue, which will be demonstrated this week at Paris’s PC Forum, extends the number of clients supported on a single server to 250 from 32 and provides a transparent dialogue between applications. Security has been enhanced with the new version. Version 4 didn’t have much in the way of security, the company notes. With the new version, security can be set up according to configuration and applications; information (by directory); or log-in access. Users with little need for security features, such as small and medium-sized companies, also have the option not to use it, the spokesman said. System and network management has been simplified with the use of mouse and windowed applications and a new file manager. Prologue says Prologue multi-user system technology is completely compatible with earlier versions and will be available to developers in June. Prologue was developed by microcomputer pioneer R2E SA – which developed the world’s first microcomputer in 1973, world’s first p

ortable computer in 1977, with its Micral line, before it was acquired by Bull.

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Bull bought the software in 1981 and integrated it into its Micral division. Within the deal, we asked for some autonomy to develop Prologue for other systems, says Birepinte. Later on, we had some problems in selling it to Bull competitors. As a result, in 1986, Prologue negotiated with Bull for a more independent image – it no longer used the Bull logo. In 1991, the company staged a management buy-out. Prologue is a multi-tasking, multi-user operating system like Unix, but has certain advantages, which are derived from its microcomputer origins, Birepinte said. This gives it a simplicity, friendliness and economy that Unix doesn’t have. For instance, it uses less disk and memory space. With Prologue version 4.1, 4Mb memory is enough for four or five users running any type of application. With Unix or Windows, you would have to double that. This may be why Prologue sold 17,000 copies of the operating system, including ABAL, last year. It also sold 4m run-time versions of ABAL for Unix and MS-DOS. In the first year of its agreement with Novell, it aims to sell 1m copies of ABAL for NetWare. We haven’t developed the company much internationally, whereas in Europe, we’re well rooted, he added.

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