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  1. Technology
February 9, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

SyFA Data Systems Plc, now a Watford, Hertfordshire-based subsidiary of Irvine, California-based WesPac Technologies Corp, last week launched the SyFA Series SX of Unix-based machines as an integral part of its Extended Applications System Architecture (CI No 1,108). SyFA systems – using software originally developed in South Africa – first appeared in 1976, when they were the product of Computer Automation’s commercial systems division selling minicomputers, mostly as what proved a very attractive alternative to IBM SNA users who wanted something like IBM’s 8100, but didn’t like that machine. In 1985 the commercial systems division was bought by Norris Agee, chairman of Trendata Corp, who set up SyFA Data Systems Ltd as an independent company. Two years later SyFA was bought by Wespac, and became a UK public limited company in 1988 – being a Plc doesn’t actually mean much unless your shares are quoted in London, but it is thought to add kudos on the letterhead; any UK limited company that meets the asset requirements can convert to Plc status. The Wespac Technologies group is currently composed of SyFA Plc and Wespac Peripherals Ltd in the UK, and SyFA Corp and Wespac Peripherals Corp in the US, with $9m of the group’s $50m turnover coming from the UK operations. The SyFA range starts, at entry level, with the SV Series which can support up to 16 users, offers up to 480Mb of disk, and ranges in price from UKP12,000 to UKP60,000. The mid-range Series TS can support up to 32 users, and offers up to 1,360Mb of disk. Both series can be upgraded to SyFAnet which offers 20Gb of disk and support for up to 240 workstations. Both the existing series can be used with the new Motorola Computer Systems Delta-based Unix System V.3 machines. SyFA is offering the Unix machiens with its proprietary Extended Applications System Architecture. SyFA claims that its Architecture enables it to work with multiple technologies to find the optimal integrated solution for a client. This enables it to offer flexible horizontal software, moulding, say, office automation, or accounts packages to suit different environments. SyFA has entered a number of strategic alliances to develop vertical software, naming the manufacturing company GKN, the wholesaler Spar, and British Airways, as partners in a variety of market sectors. SyFA Architecture products include the SyBOL business programming language on all systems, remote log-on and file transfer between personal computers and multi-user systems via RS232 or local area networking, and a SyFAnet and Ethernet gateway. Thus, in the commercial sector, in which SyFA is particularly interested, front end applications through the proprietary TS and SV machines (which include the company’s SNA emulation) can be passed back via SyFAnet to the SX Unix box which can in turn connect to any MS-DOS micro, Apple Macintosh, DEC VAX, or other Unix machine via Ethernet. Foundation software elements include an integrated office automation package EASyOffice, based on the latest Uniplex release, with telex and fax facilities, as well as the EASyMacs accounting suite. All five models in the Series SX range can be configured to operate in local and wide area networks, using a variety of protocols including Ethernet, AT&T’s Remote File Sharing, Xerox Corp’s XNS, X25 packet-switching, and IBM’s SNA and bisync. Prices range from UKP6,950 for the Series SX Model 55 Work Group system for up to four users, to UKP57,000 for the top end Model 62 Large Departmental system, which is built to support up to 74 users.

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