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July 17, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

Versant Object Technology Corp, based in Menlo Park, California and formerly known as Object Sciences Corp, says that its Versant object database management system is now ready for the IBM RS/6000 running under the AIX operating system. Versant launched its object database in May (CI No 1,435) initially for Sun workstations and said at the time that versions for other Unix workstations were on their way. IBM, of course, is sending out conflicting messages about which markets the RS/6000 is being directed at, whether it is a machine for the commercial or the engineering fraternity. Despite what IBM’s AS/400 camp might like to think, the planned release of a DB2-alike database for AIX 3, written ostensibly for commercial users, (CI No 1,432) not for this year, IBM now says – clearly extends the RS/6000 beyond scientific and engineering applications. The Versant database, on the other hand, is clearly aimed at the engineering market, which is receptive to object databases written in C++. Hitching the Versant database to the RS/6000 is not an obvious move for Versant to make – DEC and Hewlett-Packard have stronger profiles among the science and engineering open systems user base. However, Michael Seashols, president of Versant claims that customer sites have asked Versant to support the RS/6000. He goes on to say that instrumental in Versant’s decision to support IBM workstations was IBM’s commitment to object technology. Examples of this commitment that Versant cites are: IBM’s announcement that it supports C++, Smalltalk and Objective C, and IBM’s AD/Cycle and Systems Application Architecture. Either Seashols is peculiarly misinformed or he is one step ahead in understanding IBM’s game plan, since, while AD/Cycle and SAA cover a multitude of sins, one of which may be object technology, AIX is not yet part of SAA. To read either AD/Cycle or SAA as a commitment to object technology seems to err on the side of generosity. Nevertheless, Versant has decided to support AIX and says that its object database will also be converted for other strategic IBM environments within the next 12 to 18 months. These environments include: OS/2 with Presentation Manager, MS-DOS with Windows 3.0, and other AIX systems – 370 and PS/2. The database will also be integrated with what Versant chooses to call other IBM object-oriented offerings – to wit the NextStep user interface and the Smalltalk programming language. The Versant database for RS/6000 costs $15,000 and will ship in the fourth quarter.

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