EurOS/2 Magazine - Volume 1 Number 10

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Contents

WHAT'S NEW FROM EUROS/2......

Problems! Installing applications under OS/2.

EurOS/2 members IBIS (International Banking Information Systems) are interested in collaboration over the implementation of software products with OS/2 workstations. Their particular concerns are with their present basic software inventory of Word Perfect 6.0a and 5.2 for Windows, Lotus Smart Suite for Windows, MS Project for Windows and Harvard Graphics for Windows. Following the suggested LAN installation guide asks for "node" installations to be performed on every machine. This seems to involve installing vital code on each machine, which would be (a) very time consuming (b) apparently pointless since all the code is the same for each PC.

Moore Stephens (EurOS/2 sponsors) would like to share in solving this problem, having similar issues with the OS/2 version of Smart Suite.

Would other members like to participate? Please [e-mail Martin Brampton] or fax to +44-171-246 6055 if you would like to join in.

OS/2 based Software Tools branch out

A slew of announcements from IBM extend the reach of software tools that have had a strong presence in the OS/2 arena. At the Object World show, IBM introduced VisualAge BASIC as the latest addition to the VisualAge family of visual software development tools. It uses a BASIC that is compatible with Microsoft's Visual Basic and supports VBX and OCX controls. The Microsoft technology supports remote objects which reside on an NT server, but IBM have gone one better by embracing remote objects on AIX or OS/2. This makes the product more scalable and more valuable in an environment that makes use of OS/2 or AIX servers.

Broadening the reach of the successful VisualAge C++, versions for all Windows platforms are now available. These make use of the IBM Open Class library rather than Microsoft's "Foundation Classes" (MFC). The advantages are that the IBM Open Class library is a significantly more powerful and well rounded class library, as well as extending "openness" beyond the Windows operating systems.

Maintaining progress of network-centric development, another version of VisualAge supports development of Java applications or applets. Although keen developers can write Java now, the wider use of Internet technology will depend on the release of mature and powerful tools such as VisualAge Java.

Further developments advance the DB2/2 relational database. IBM has outlined details of non-text multimedia extensions for video, audio and graphics. These should ship in July as part of a software development kit for OS/2, AIX and WindowsNT with a US price of $495. Also the DB2 Text Extender, originally provided for AIX in January, will be available for OS/2 and WindowsNT in July. "IBM is the only major database vendor shipping any integral object functionality and is way ahead of the game in adding support for complex data types" according to Herb Edelstein of Euclid Associates.

IBM and Internet Developments

IBM is collaborating with Netscape on some platforms, and is bundling Web software with hardware and offering a choice of Web servers - including IBM's Lotus Notes-based Domino product. Some analysts have confirmed that IBM will not push Notes as the only intranet platform, suggesting that IBM is afraid of being accused of trying to push a strategy down people's throats.

IBM is also actively tying its back-end transaction servers, namely CICS mainframe query systems, more tightly to third-party Web products via Java. By the end of the year, it is expected that IBM's Hursley Park Laboratories will have developed a version of the CICS client written in Java. This will allow users of Java-compliant Web browsers to work with back-end CICS applications and use the security and authentication services in CICS.

The improved Version 4.1 of IBM's Internet Connection Server and Internet Connection Secure Server, available now on OS/2 Warp, Windows NT, and AIX, feature new tools that help users better develop fully secured, customized Web sites. Standard versions can be downloaded as freeware from [the Internet Connection Server page at IBM Raleigh]. Secure versions are downloadable for trial use.

Distributed File System for Warp Server

Maintaining its competive position against rivals, IBM is developing a Distributed File System (DFS) for OS/2 Warp Server that will provide a unified file system across multiple servers in an organisation. The file system, which is said to be due in beta in late 1996, will complement the Directory and Security Server (DSS) software server. It will also provide the capability to have a single piece of data, including a file or a programming object, on multiple servers, according to IBM.

Novell and Microsoft are developing similar systems for NetWare and Windows NT respectively. Like DSS, IBM's file system is to be based on a component of the Open Software Foundation's Distributed Computing Environment (DCE). DFS already is available for AIX.

DFS uses remote procedure calls for interprocess communications across a network. The IBM Directory and Security Server for OS/2, due to ship this month, will be the repository for references to files and objects in the file system.

The DFS implementation on AIX, called the DCE Enhanced Distributed File System, offers data replication, backup and relocation, and security and file protection.

Novell's NetWare Advanced File System, also a distributed file implementation, is due with a planned release of NetWare in 1997. Microsoft is planning a DFS with functionality similar to IBM's for release in the Cairo version of Windows NT, due in 1997 or more likely 1998. A beta release is planned for this year, claimed Mike Nash, Microsoft group product manager for Windows NT.

OS/2 and Strategic Perceptions

Let's look at some other factors that affect choice of operating system. This time we'll focus on an issue that is not directly to do with technology, the question of investment protection.

We all know that much of what we spend on IT has to be written off either immediately, or quite quickly. It is dangerous to suppose that old equipment or software products have much intrinsic value. But there are limits to how far we can go.

Many organisations have key software applications, either bespoke or written for a specialist vertical market, that are vital to operations. Usually, the cost of redeveloping these is significant, and it may not be practical to do this too frequently. Another investment that is very important, although rarely included in any financial reports, is the skill people have acquired in the use of IT. Again, there is an argument for seeking to maintain the value of this investment.

So how are suppliers judged when it comes to investment protection? One consideration is past performance. Suppliers who have pursued an evolutionary policy will allow their customers to sustain IT values for longer than those that operate by revolution. Adherence to published interfaces that remain stable or evolve while retaining backwards compatibility makes for continuity.

Naturally, there is also a pressure in a potentially conflicting direction. We are not content for long with products unless there is innovation. So we ask whether our supplier of operating systems has a record of carrying forward new and improved functions. But, of course, there is a trade off here. If the new functions come at the price of revolution, then there will be less time to obtain a benefit before the time comes for the next revolution. The costs of obtaining new functionality will be high.

For most organisations, another way to look at investment protection is to wonder whether IT is moving in a safe direction. Everyone wants to innovate, but everyone wants to succeed. Some risk is inevitable, but too much risk can lead to disaster.

In a number of respects, OS/2 has scored well against these criteria. Although the very earliest version 2 releases of OS/2 had some flaws, the system has become increasing stable at the same time as becoming more functional. And there has not been major discontinuity - systems have been smoothly upgradeable right through to Merlin. Innovation is not lacking, and Merlin now provides a number of operating system firsts. Is OS/2 a safe direction? More and more OS/2 is taking us into new functions that are provided through open standards. Even if OS/2 itself were one day to cease to be relevant, OS/2 users will increasingly be committed to standards that should outlive any particular implementation.

Exchange of Views

Can you offer comments on your own experiences of OS/2 based server or workstation implementations? Contributions from readers are very welcome, especially in computer readable form. Please see contact details below or mail your ideas right now while you think about it! Or if you want to know something, mail in your request so that it can be mentioned in future editions.

Planned Meetings

The July meeting has been postponed to take advantage of the arrival of the Merlin beta, and will be held on Thursday 1st August. Please come if you can.

At present, meetings are taking place at 4 pm at the Moore Stephens Training Centre, 1 Snow Hill, London EC1A 2EN. Nearest underground stations Farringdon, St Paul's or Blackfriars. Please let me know your fax number for a map or details of local hotels. The formal presentations will usually finish by 6 pm, but are likely to be followed by extended informal discussions over light refreshments.

If you've any [comments or requests] concerning meetings or the magazine, we'd love to hear from you - contact details below. Which articles do you like or dislike?

OS/2 News

OpenDoc is gaining strength through its cross platform implementations. LAN Times reports increasing interest as OpenDoc moves from its origins in OS/2 and Macintosh to embrace Windows 95 and Windows NT. The AIX version is also in beta test. "OLE still hasn't addressed cross-platform capability for this kind of technology" said Anthony Brown, IBM's manager of object-technology marketing. Burgeoning interest in Web technologies is being met by Arabica, OpenDoc for Java. IBM is positioning this as complementary to Sun's Java Beans initiative for portable Java applications built from components. The beta release of Arabica is expected in the fourth quarter. OpenDoc has been described as technically superior to OLE, but lagging behind in developer interest.

The next release of FaxWorks for OS/2 is planned to incorporate increased accounting functionality. It will permit the inclusion in the fax popup of a job number. The subsequent costing analysis can use this to analyse costs to individual jobs. This will be valuable to organisations needing project costing, or for client costing as typically required by professional firms.

Lotus plan to commence beta testing of Notes Release 4.5 during July. This is claimed to unite for the first time in a single client Lotus' messaging, support for mobile users, groupware applications along with group calendaring and scheduling and direct access to the Web. Java applets will be supported, as will Netscape-compatible plug-ins. An interesting security development is a security tool designed to assist with control over malicious programs. Notes Server 4.5 will also support POP3 mail and the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) 3.0 security services.

Magazine format

The EurOS/2 Electronic Magazine is despatched by e-mail in HTML format. You can read it with the tags, but it is most effectively read using the OS/2 Web Explorer or a similar Web browser. Simply save the magazine in a convenient file, giving it a name with a .HTM extension. The file object can then be dropped on the Web Explorer and you will be able to read a fully formatted version of the magazine. Provided you are connected to the Internet, the live Web links will all work for you.

If you would like to access the EurOS/2 Magazine (including back numbers) through the Web, EurOS/2 member John Poltorak has it set up at his Web site and you can go directly to an index of EurOS/2 magazine issues.

Various methods of stripping off the HTML are available if required (see earlier editions of the magazine for details). Alternatively, if you'd prefer to receive a stripped version of the magazine, please mail me to be moved to the appropriate list. If you're getting the faxed version, you might like to switch to the electronic version - just let me know your e-mail address.

EurOS/2 Contact Information

We would like to encourage anyone working to achieve successful OS/2 implementations to participate in EurOS/2. All communications are despatched electronically, via Internet, Compuserve or fax. To receive regular information from EurOS/2, please let us know your first name, last name, company, job title, address, telephone, fax, Internet e-mail address, Compuserve e-mail address, and indicate which form of communication you prefer.

EurOS/2 can be contacted in the following ways:

  • Internet at euros2@ibm.net
  • Compuserve to Martin Brampton 100303,2007
  • Fax to Martin Brampton, Moore Stephens, 0171-246-6055
  • Telephone Martin Brampton, 0171-334-9191
  • BBS Moore Stephens Infoline, 0171-334-0337
  • Mail to Martin Brampton, Moore Stephens, St Paul's House, Warwick Lane, London EC4P 4BN.

Web Stuff

AUSTIN, Texas, June 24, 1996. . .In a Business Research Group (BRG) comparison of network operating systems(NOSes), OS/2 Warp Server outperformed both WindowsNT Server and Novell NetWare in tasks that are instrumental to managing the network. The information was reported in a BRG market research study that addressed the cost of ownership among the three major NOSes. In addition, Warp Server had the lowest average cost of labour at large LAN sites, which includes cost per server and cost per end node. BRG is headquartered in Newton, Mass. You can find a fuller report at [Team OS/2's OS2 Web site].

The latest edition of OS/2 e-Zine! includes a supplement giving first impressions of the Merlin beta.

Another interesting Team OS/2 page describes [current OS/2 beta programmes].

An excellent OS/2 Web Site with much interesting information and many other links is [Carl's Warp Corner].