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January 27, 1988

“THE MOST IMPORTANT IBM ANNOUNCEMENT”: PALO ALTO FIRM LAUNCHES QUARTERLY ON SAA

By CBR Staff Writer

Finding the formula for a runaway publishing success is far from easy, but Killen & Associates of Palo Alto, California looks to have come up with a pretty promising one: you announce to all those data processing managers and independent software companies befuddled with Fear Uncertainty & Doubt that an introduction from IBM is even more important than those of OS/360 and Systems Network Architecture, and, having inspired the appropriate level of panic, promise to remove the sting by launching a quarterly publication on the subject – for an annual subscription of a mere $995. The IBM announcement that should have us all shivering in our shoes is Systems Applications Architecture, and the quarterly journal is The SAA Spectrum. The brief for the editors is to address topics that are of strategic importance to major computer users, third party software developers and computer systems vendors, with analyses of key issues, technical interpretations and case studies to keep managers abreast of the latest developments and enable them to make informed decisions. The company’s justification for saying that SAA is serious is that it responded to IBM’s March 17, 1987 announcement of SAA by publishing a report entitled IBM’S SAA Strategy: Impact & Opportunities. It claims that the study was bought by nearly every major computer and communications company in the world, as well as being used by many of the Fortune 100 companies as a framework to think clearly about the impacts and opportunities that SAA will create. It was this study that concluded that SAA will have considerably greater short- and long-term impact than any previous IBM announcement including OS/360 and SNA. Backing that belief is the IBM commitment to spend $10,000m on SAA research and development alone. However it has to be said that there are three grounds for scepticism. The first is that there is copious evidence that IBM will not be the same overwhelming force in the world computer industry in the 1990s that it was in the 1970s. Following on from that is a growing scepticism among users evidenced in the dismal early take-up of the 9370, which superficially is the answer to a maiden data processing manager’s prayers. Systems Applications Architecture would have been a wonderful idea if it had been introduced in 1975 or 1976: today it is hard not to sympathise with users who say the whole thing is too damn late. The third ground for scepticism is the very fact that IBM is throwing $10,000m at the problem. IBM’s answer to intractable software problems is always to throw money at them, but anyone who remembers the Year One fiasco of System 38, to give just one example, will tend to feel nervous that IBM tends to throw so much money at SAA. Those reservations notwithstanding, if The SAA Spectrum does its job properly, it may well lead to many users and developers questioning whether SAA will live up to promise, in which case it could be $995 very well spent. Killen promises that issues to be addressed in the publication include How quickly is SAA developing and being implemented? How are users reacting to SAA? How are software vendors supporting IBM’s SAA thrust? The first issue will include two contributions on OS/2 and where it fits into SAA; importance of the Presentation Manager to SAA; three pieces about the SAA periphery – Unix and the similarity of AIX to certain aspects of the System 38; an examination of the implications of SAA on IMS or CICS; SNA, SAA and the significance of CPIC. And case studies will include a major IBM software vendor’s view of SAA and a large user’s plans for SAA. Other features planned for the first issue are planning for SAA – an introduction; a review of the first European SAA conference; commentary on the Adapso SAA Statement; and an interview with an IBM executive.

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