The OS/2 User Group held a meeting last week to to discuss local area networks, Lan Manager 2.0, LAN Server 1.2, and Novell’s NetWare 80386 version 3.0. Phil Buggins, Microsoft’s technical director was the lead speaker, and he pursued the theme that LAN Manager is part of OS/2. He says that it is a marketing decision to sell them separately, especially since Microsoft makes more money that way. Buggins believes that OS/2 will become a 80386 and 80486-based operating system rather than 80286. LAN Manager 2.0 is an OS/2-based server, and it offers domain management, peer services, fault tolerance, and multiprocessor support. He believes that OS/2 1.2 is designed for large disks, long file names, hot fixes, and high performance with advanced data structure and extensive caching. Buggins says that LAN Manager 2.0 provides the power for client-server computing and distributed administration, and he believes that it frees developers to go in at the 32-bit level. Mike Seaman of Torus Networks largely agrees on the capabilities of LAN Manager 2.0. But, he thinks that the computer industry has reached a boring stage where the world and his wife are flogging 80386-based clones, the personal computer has become a commodity item, and he believes that client server computing is only the start of generalised distributed processing. Seaman defines distributed processing as two or more processors co-operating to solve a problem without concern for the location of those processors. He lists the benefits of distributed processing as follows. It reduces network traffic, enhances scaleability, improves usage of resources, and enhances availability and resilience. Seaman says there are two sorts of applications – enhancement of existing ones, and the new developments. The problem with new applications is how to write them. He believes that a prerequisite is a new infrastructure. The infrastructure should perform multitasking; peer-to-peer transport such as NetBIOS; a distributed security mechanism; remote procedure call facilities such as Netwise; some sort of trading mechanism so that they distributed pieces can find one another; a configuration manager to deal with migration between machines; atomic actions; and support for replication so that single servers can be replaced with one or more copies behaving identically. Seaman says that support for MS-DOS, OS/2, Unix, Mac, VMS, and MVS has to be incorporated in the next five to 10 years, and the world of minis and mainframes will become secondary to network of personal computers. So can OS/2 do the job? Not yet. Seaman says that LAN Manager and Netware can perform multitasking, peer to peer transport, and support multiple platforms. However, both products fall down on distributed security. Seaman claims that the security machanism in LAN Manager is unsuitable for distributed systems largely because it doesn’t address the problem of having pieces of applications spread around a network. Seaman says there isn’t much to choose between between Lan Manager and NetWare, but he reckons they will both take time to develop from client server computing into the distributed applications arena. IBM’s man, Trevor Hillery, says that the highlights of LAN Server 1.2 are its replication function, LAN Application Program Interfaces support, and migration tools. Both IBM and Microsoft insist they are still moving closer together, and LAN Server 1.2 now incorporates Microsoft’s User Access Control Subsystem. Hillery says that Version 1.2 has enhanced interoperability, is compatible with OfficeVision, Lan Manager, and IBM bridges, and MS-DOS LAN Requester is to be shipped as part of the product. The Requester needs version 3.3 or 4.01 and LAN Support Program 1.1, and installation options include downloading from the server or the conventional 5.25 and 3.5 floppies shipped with control settings, and improved generic profiles.
The LAN Application Program Interfaces can be used on workstations, servers, or in client-server combinations. IBMspeak was followed by the more rumbustious Phil Rowley, Nove
ll’s technical support manager. He claims that LAN Server policy was revealed two years ago at an IBM non-disclosure briefing. He was told that if the strategy sounded very similar to what Novell was doing, it was meant to be. Rowley says it is a misconception to assume that servers must run in file servers, that name pipes must be used, and that only OS/2 is essential. He believes that NetWare’s name service, distributed applications, support for multiple server and client systems, and the number of software partners – including Hitachi, Informix, and Oracle – will keep Novell’s market share at around 65%. If that’s the case, then it looks as if the local area network world is all set to divide between the blue and the red corners. – Janice McGinn