One of the most difficult tricks for a mature computer company to pull is to establish a completely new product line as a core product from a standing start. Honeywell achieved it with the DPS 6 minicomputer, DEC did it with the VAX, albeit with a near embarrassing attempt at a PDP-11 emulation mode, and most recently, NCR has done it with the Tower family of Unix supermicros. The importance of the Tower at the heart of NCR’s product line is underlined by the efforts the company is making to fit it with every standard going so that it can co-exist in the mainstream of computing. Last week, NCR added compatibility with IBM LU 6.2 and Advanced Program to Program Communications, APPC (CI No 805). The Tower can also now co-exist with DisOSS with a product called Document Exchange D, compatible with IBM’s Document Interchange Architecture, and NetBIOS for communications with personal computers on a local area network. The company will release an X400 package by the end of 1987 and an FTAM, file transfer and access method, package early in 1988. The products are being bundled together under a programme called NCR Connect, from which other communications projects will emerge. NCR is working, for example, on voice and data integration as are most of the other big office automation companies. The new announcements follow on from the company’s Enhanced Towernet and PC/Server/PC Connect and the two network management programs it announced earlier this year. NCR’s APPC offering offers peer level communications between Tower systems over an SNA network for a cost of UKP1,635. In addition a PU2.1 physical unit connection facility, provides peer-to-peer links using SNA/SDLC protocols for UKP1,270. The DIA DisOSS-compatible product costs UKP1,170. All prices given are based on a standard Tower 32/600 configuration. NCR makes it clear that it is not putting all its communications commitments in one basket. It has adopted an inhouse term, SIA, for Systems Integrated Architecture, to indicate the mix of support it is offering for both Open Systems Interconnection, OSI, and SNA. We are finding that OSI is developing more rapidly in the UK than anywhere else in the world, says marketing manager of communications and product integration, Peter Reid. The company has also released Innovative Software’s Smart office automation pack, which now runs under Unix as well as MS-DOS and includes communications support for asynchronous services such as electronic document transfer, auto-dial, auto-answer and log on. Smart costs around UKP700 for Personalike versions and around UKP1,600 for Unix versions.
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