Unify Corp has joined Oracle Corp and Relational Technology Inc in committing to development of distributed database products, and has outlined a two-year plan for development of a co-operative processing architecture. The co-operative processing architecture is based on the premise that personal computers are now almost as cheap as terminals, so why not hook MS-DOS boxes up to database engines and retain the friendliness of the Personal. The system will spread the components of Unify’s products across three levels of computers: the first layer is the human interface layer and will be implemented on the Personal; the second layer is the applications layer, providing the processing logic and the database requests; it will reside on a 68000 or 80386 Unix box, and the company says that DEC VMS and IBM VM versions will follow; the actual database processing is the third layer, implemented on a Unix supermini initially but again with VMS and VM versions promised for later. Sun Microsystems’ Network File System will be used to connect the various machines that make up the third layer, and to connect the third layer with the second. Connections between the second and first layer will be handled in the future by PC-NFS and initially by an RS-232 serial port. Access to mainframe MVS databases will be provided by a standard SQL interface.
First phase due in 1988
The first phase of this project, due for delivery in the first quarter 1988 was announced last week in the form of three new products, Accell/CP, Query/CP and Unify DBMS/DOS. Accell/CP is software that allows Personals to handle word processing-type operations whilst minis, or database engines, continue with other tasks. Accell/CP offloads the human interface portion of the Accell Integrated Development System to the MS-DOS-based Personal for data entry, validation, window management and systems prompts and messages. Query/CP is a file transfer utility that formats data extracted from host databases so that it can be used directly by popular Personal packages such as Lotus 1-2-3, Ashton-Tate dBase II and III, MicroPro Wordstar, Lotus Symphony, Ashton-Tate Framework, IBM DisplayWrite, Microsoft Multiplan and several graphics packages. Unify DBMS/DOS is predictably a Unify DBMS version for MS-DOS users, and a set of devlopment tools for MS-DOS environments, and includes the ability to write C programs to access data directly. Prices for the Unify Personal Computer environment start around UKP700. The company claims that there is complete compatibility between its PC-DOS and Unix products and that users can progress from Personals to larger machines without changing their DBMS applications software. This move now leaves Informix Corp out in cold as the only one of the Big Four Unix relational database suppliers not to have announced plans to develop a distributed database ssytem. Relational Technology Inc and Oracle Corp made their bids last year, although Oracle has recently announced setbacks. Development of a genuine distributed database is widely regarded as the most challenging project in the computer world.