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February 21, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

Promises promises as IBM, Microsoft tell UK OS/2 User Group why OS/2 is the future. According to its newly appointed Entry Systems president Jim Cannavino, IBM is determined to make OS/2 the most successful operating system in corporate history. The prophecy kicked off a top-of-the-bill appearance at the recent forum held by the UK’s OS/2 User Group in London. But despite sticking let me tell ya at the beginning of every sentence, Mr Cannavino had little of note to say. Yes, IBM will tackle the primary gripe – the size of memory required to run the operating system – by improving its packaging and dropping the price of memory. And yes, there will be applications – a fast growing portfolio, a new generation, and the 800 on show at Comdex ’88, to be precise. But in the meantime, users will have to make do with rhetoric. Consider, mused Cannavino, IBM’s OS/2 commitment. Not only has the company mobilised its entire Austin, Texas team to develop OS/2 enhancements, but the UK’s Hursley arm has been beavering away on Presentation Manager. Meanwhile, with OS/2 Extended Edition running on their PS/2s, IBM has brought its users a giant step closer to the goal of Systems Application Architecture. Switching rapidly to hardware, Cannavino claimed that the old AT architecture was now widely acknowledged to be running out of gas. By contrast, its Micro Channel substitute will become an assumption, ushering users into an era of sophisticated application environments and distributed services. And those Micro Channel boards? Cannavino conceded it had taken IBM a little while to get more of them out, but says 700 of them are now available, with new ones arriving at a rate of 40 to 50 a month. The Entry Systems president also preached a new version of the customer conciliation gospel. Instead of abandoning recalcitrant customers in a technological dead-end, Cannavino pledged unlimited IBM pre-migration support for both MS-DOS and 3270-type terminal users. Our customers will decide when MS-DOS is going away, he beamed, summarising a gesture which in IBMese, apparently substitutes the customary stick with the vacuum cleaner effect. Still less familiar IBM faces emerged via a discussion of AIX. In its Unix development toss-up between standards and customers, the former will apparently prevail – but for OS/2 read the opposite. OS/2 will do what our customers want, said Cannavino, in statement designed to placate attendees, but guaranteed to raise a few cynical eyebrows elsewhere. In a section tantalisingly dubbed Futures, graphics designed to smooth characters and boost screen reading speeds, full motion and digital interactive video, and mixed media, were listed as the new technologies waiting to burst from IBM’s wings. And on the workstation front, Cannavino also hinted at improvements in image storage capabilities and the arrival of a 33MHz range by 1990. And the latest on what makes an IBMer tick? The thing that drives him the most, (let me tell ya), is when a customer wants to buy something, Cannavino just wants to supply it. Promise of integrated distributed database According to IBM UK’s Dave Bramley, a fully integrated, distributed database is our long-term goal, with PS/2 providing the window to the system. Reviewing progress to date, Bramley claimed that the arrival of the OS/2 Extended Edition Database Manager meant that IBM had delivered relational database to all its main operating platforms, with Systems Application Architecture providing a timely springboard for distributed data and processing. High on the future agenda appears to be the provision of remote and Advanced-Peer-to-Peer enhancements to provide transparent database access across a network. With the availability of remote SQL Structured Query Language Application Programming Interfaces, users of any SAA system will eventually be able to access multiple databases for a single unit of work, he added. Meanwhile, Bramley acknowledged that performance is an on-going headache. Those worried may find some comfort in promises of improved algorithms, high c

oncurrency index locking, an access plan interpreter for SQL statements, query and buffer management optimisers, and pre-compilation with deferred bind. But they should also take heed of IBM’s own admission that difficult thinking and new challenges lie ahead.

The OS/2 case according to Microsoft In a protracted attempt to answer the question Why Move?, Microsoft UK’s Bryan Nelson claimed that OS/2 can boost productivity, increase return on investment, and enhance a company’s competitive advantage. But in Microsoft’s Year of the Presentation Manager Application, a disproportionate amount of time was spent airing familiar claims, and slotting OS/2 into theoretical contexts. According to Nelson, OS/2 will transfer its users to the last of Nolan Norton & Co’s corporate computing categories – business transformation. This stipulates the creative, efficient, and full-scale use of desktop computers to provide a 1,000% return on technology investment. OS/2 meets these criteria by exploiting existing hardware technology, meeting customers’ ease-of-use, multi-tasking and increased memory requirements, and reducing costs by transferring power from the mainframe to the workstation. And – oh yes – there’s that new generation of power applications. Long-term, Microsoft’s core-engine strategy will design and support applications across a common operating environment, comprising Presentation Manager under OS/2, Windows under MS-DOS, and Apple Macintosh’s Multifinder. According to Nelson, the provision of consistent user interfaces, will transform migration from a question of when, to a question of how. In the meantime, however, the answer to when to go OS/2 is now; five years on, and watchers and waiters will be at a distinct disadvantage.

Understanding IBM’s LAN Server According to Data Logic’s Martin Legge, IBM’s LAN Server is designed to provide easy-to-use, unobtrusive support to users of applications-oriented local area network. In a presentation optimistically entitled Understanding IBM’s LAN Server, Legge attempted to outline the separate ways in which these objectives are achieved. Initially, he explained, users exploit the program starter in Presentation Manager to compile an applications database, stored on the server. Network administrators simply add location – areas where applications can be moved without being attached to specific servers – user credentials, and resource profile data. Subsequent end-user access is provided via a password exchange. As the server treats each domain as a single entity, the user needs to log on only once. Consequently, once the user has gained access, resource allocation – and reallocation – of applications occurs automatically. In addition, the server uses a Spooler Queue Manager to provide both Query Manager and control panel interfaces. The latter lists remote queues and jobs under the queue alongside other jobs, and allows the server to take control if a remote job is chosen by an end-user. Its chief function, however is to enhance the power of the network administrator. By providing all the queues and jobs on each domain, the spooler enables administrators to hold or release job operations, and oversee a remote machine via a separate server. In the future, local functions will be extended to incorporate network functions, leaving the network free to concentrate on error detection and fault diagnosis.

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