OS2 World.Com Forum

Subject  :  Question about eCom
Author  :  bravelion
Date  :  12 Jan, 2005 on 09:38

I hope I can some find some answers on a few questions please.

I am evaluating the purchase of a very specialized, niche software application that is sold with a server running eComStation.

This is a fairly expensive hardware/software combination ($40K) and I am finding it frightening to purchase something that expensive on a platform I know nothing about. It is, however, the most robust and feature-rich solution I have found, and the developer claims OS/2 is rock solid reliable and is "the best OS in the world". I guess I've been under a rock because I thought OS/2 died in the 90's.


1) How easy/hard will it be to obtain service from third parties for eComStation? I'm comparing this to the 3 year, 4 hour onsite service agreement that I could get with, let's say a Compaq server, for about $1300. Is there anything comparable for support with eComServer?

Yes the vendor offers support, but they are out of state and I don't feel comfortable having them as the only source for help.

2) Are most of the hardware components of an eComStation going to be off the shelf parts?

3) What should I be worried about, if anything?

4) What would be some intellegent questions to ask the vendor and what are the answers I would want to hear regarding buying software that runs on eComServer?

Any feedback is appreciated.


Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  Cris
Date  :  12 Jan, 2005 on 13:21
Hi Bravelion.
It's not easy to reply to your questions without some more details on what you need to do and what this niche application really is. I hope it's not something you need to keep secret.

By the way, OS/2 did not really die in the 90s, nor it is dead now. The latest incarnation is called eComStation (eCS for friends, latest release number is 1.2) and is managed by a third party company (Serenity Systems International) although the core OS is still built on IBM technology.

OS/2 (and hence eCS) is a very solid and reliable OS. I'm not surprised that you haven't heard about it since the mid 90s, when it was widely known and appreciated, since IBM decided to resign the battle against M$ and slowly stopped supporting its own OS. Anyway, the base OS has received (and is still receiving) a lot of fixing and innovation both from IBM and from third parties and it is quite current.
Its user base has surely shrinked, but it still has lots of loyal users that are aware of its advantages upon other mainstream OSes and consider it superior (if not "the best OS in the world" <g>).

1) I can't reply to this question without knowing where you're based. The simplest (and more logical) thing is to request service from the company that's selling you this hardware/software combination. If you want to have some assistance on eCS specifically, you have to tell us *where* you are. There are countries where it is fairly easy to obtain such help, while other countries have such low user bases that the nearest OS/2 user may be at hundreds of kilometers.

Obviously, you can always look for help through the net, though I understand that it's not the kind of assistance you're looking for.

2) Yes. Though some parts of the system may be slightly outdated, since OS/2 device drivers tend to be available later with respect to mainstream OSes. How much you have to wait depends on the kind of hardware. At present some kinds of USB devices are problematic, but the majority works well.

You have to be carefull with printers: better to look at the list of device drivers before buying one of the latest models. You have greater chances (near 100%) if the printer is a corporate model, while you have to be careful if the printer is one of the recent personal models (especially photo printers).

3) Can't imagine why you should be worried about anything, but again without knowing the kind of application you need it's not easy to say. OS/2, like any other OS, has its strengths and weaknesses. A well configured eCS-based server can work flawlessly without manual intervention and without rebooting for months. It also depends on how much you trust the source of your hardware/software solution. Is he someone you have experience with, direct or indirect?

4) Again: what do you need to do with the eCS server? What kind of software would you like to buy/use? Right now, with the information you (don't) give I can't think of any intelligent question

Hope this helps...


Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  mikeg greenemk@cox.net
Date  :  12 Jan, 2005 on 14:58
I can not imagine how you could expect to receive a acceptable answer without people knowing the software and use of the system.

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  bravelion
Date  :  12 Jan, 2005 on 17:57
Thanks for the replies. Sorry for being too vague. Let me try again.

I am in Austin TX. This is a telecom solution that will host voice applications. I will initially have 1 and later 2 T1 pri lines running into the system. It will be housed in a telecom colo facility in Austin and I will access it remotely to perform admin and account provisioning functions. The telecom hotel does not provide managed support but simply monitors the facility and insures that power and phone line connections are not disrupted. I could alterantively have the system at my office, but a colo seems more prudent.

We'll have 1000's of business clients accessing voicemail and call transfer services on this system and, just like web hosting, if the system goes down during business hours, the complaints and emails will begin flooding in. It has to be up and running 100% of the time, less the occasional 3AM maintenance.

Is that enough information from which to form an opinion and answer my original questions?


Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  jjurban jjurban@attglobal.net
Date  :  12 Jan, 2005 on 20:21
Hello bravelion,

Perhaps I can address your questions from a slightly different perspective:

I am President of a company which develops OS/2 and eCS applications exclusively.

Every time we present our software to a new prospective customer, we are met with a series of questions just like yours.

We answer them by saying that OS/2 (or eCS) is a solid, reliable, stable, functional and efficient Operating System. Our application, because it is based on such an OS, is similarly solid, reliable, stable, functional and efficient.

We believe that our application is the "best of breed" in its field.

Any company would make such a claim. But we have customers who have been using our OS/2 product since 1998 (The year we released it) and have NEVER had a virus, NEVER found a bug in either the OS or our app, NEVER had a crash due to either the OS or our app (crashes due to power failures do occur, there is nothing we can do about this short of using a UPS).

We have been in business since 1983. Believe it or not, we are GROWING, in our base of satisfied customers, even though we sell nothing but OS/2 and eCS-based software.

In contrast, our Windows-based competitors are losing money (we know this because their stock has fallen drastically). We believe they have severe problems supporting their customers due to the enormous number of Windows viruses, worms, Trojans, etc. Even though these are not the fault of the app vendor, the user doesn't care. He just wants his system to work and if it doesn't work, he is dissatisfied.

I would be happy to discuss this further with you, even give you some references who can attest to the stability of our OS/2 and eCS systems. But I would prefer to do this off-line.

I think my e-Mail address appears in this message header. If you want to contact me, please feel free.

John J. Urbaniak, Ph.D.
Aviar, Inc.
Pittsburgh, PA

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  ecsguy
Date  :  12 Jan, 2005 on 20:25

1) How easy/hard will it be to obtain service from third parties for eComStation? I'm comparing this to the 3 year, 4 hour onsite service agreement that I could get with, let's say a Compaq server, for about $1300. Is there anything comparable for support with eComServer?

What city and state will the server be co-located?

2) Are most of the hardware components of an eComStation going to be off the shelf parts?

Yes, eComStation uses standard off the shelf parts (good quality motherboards, videoo, LAN, etc).

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  cyberspittle cyberspittle@yahoo.com
Date  :  13 Jan, 2005 on 04:43
I can provide first hand experience on using OS/2 as a PBX (phone system), of course this was in 1997-1999. We used an old 1.x version of OS/2 on Mitel hardware. It was so solid, we didn't know what operating system was running until preparing for "Y2K". We rebooted the system on a weekend, when the majority of everyone was not at work, and I recognized it was running OS/2. The system was in use close to 10 years (At least that is what we were told) prior to our reboot. Everyone thought it was solid-state electronics and firmware (just turn it on and it works). While checking the hardware, we saw a PC and serial cabling. After contacting the vendor, we were told that the PBX was no longer supported and would we like to buy a new one (several thousand dollars). We declined the offer and found an old 5-1/4" floppy drive, a Y2K compliant PC, installed OS/2 Warp 4, fixpaks, and proceeded to intall the Mitel software. It was nerve-racking, but the worst that could go wrong was using the old PC with the phone system. After some verification, we had a Y2K PBX ready to ring in the new year. It was amazing that OS/2 Warp 4 could run the old 16-bit version of OS/2 (made by Microsoft ... not IBM). I should note, we tried to install the 16-bit OS/2 application on Windows NT 4.0 Server, but it would not install properly. Reading the NT 4.0 documentation, the 16-bit text-mode OS/2 applications should have run on it's OS/2 sub-system. Consider this as "one from the trenches".

Bottom line, go for the eCS solution. Otherwise you will be rebooting your system to apply patches to the base operating system. when was the last time OS/2 was hacked? . . . n e v e r !

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  Radek hajek@vuv.cz
Date  :  13 Jan, 2005 on 12:54
Now it becomes clear to me why the vendor uses OS/2.

1. Reliability. Most institutions, which run "mission critical" applications (applications, which must not crash) are using either OS/2 or Unix. For example, many banks are using OS/2. Half of USA prisons is running OS/2 If you try to use Windows for such apps then you will live a dangerous life.

2. Security. OS/2 gives you "security by obscurity". There is too few OS/2 users (too few with respect to the number of computers in the world) so that no bastard cares to write viruses or malicious apps for OS/2. At least, so far. If a virus arrives, then it will understand nothing. It will find no APIs, which it needs for its "work". It will not find files, which it has planned to attack. It cannot run.

Your software seems to be mission critical. That's why OS/2.

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  bravelion
Date  :  13 Jan, 2005 on 17:01
Thanks for the responses and insight. This gives me a better perspective.

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  BigWarpGuy
Date  :  13 Jan, 2005 on 20:56
>Check the IBM pricing on a real copy of OS2.
> Support is available >for it. There is no 3rd
> party support for ecs. There is no support
>from the vendor selling it.

IMHO - if they support OS/2, they support eCS since it is an imrpoved version of OS/2 (eCS is based on the OS/2 kernel).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
OS/2 Warp-ed/eComStation-ed to the very end.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  theuser
Date  :  07 Mar, 2005 on 21:37
I don't know that much about hardware/software, or the issues you might be facing with such a choice but the people at Admiral Online do. They have a site www.DictoMail.com that offers a voicemail-to-text conversion service among other things, and specialize in telephony related issues. Maybe you could get them to tell you the right way to go.

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  Fahrvenugen
Date  :  08 Mar, 2005 on 07:17

While I havn't worked at a location with thousands of phone lines like you are talking about, I can maybe offer some thoughts. Just 2 years ago I did work in a call centre with about 40 incoming lines, all queued into about 9 representatives answering phones. It had the ability for automatic call direction and prioritization. The phone system also handled a phone on the desk of everyone who worked there (it was a Northern Telecom phone system), and voice mail for everyone who may have needed / wanted it. This phone system is based (it is still in use) on OS/2 Warp. Rarely was there ever a problem, that office was more likely to have a problem with the Windows based software running on the desktops and the network then the phone system. Also, it had the ability to produce a wide variety of types of reports.

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  vingfel vingfel@excite.com
Date  :  08 Mar, 2005 on 11:58
Maybe you shouldn't forget that you asked a question to OS2/eCS fans. The answer you get can NOT be nagative...

Note: I am an OS2/eCS fan myself.

Maybe you shoudl check with your vendor the delay for their intervention if the solution they sold you crash...

If you choose an solution based on a "basterd OS" ( from a M$ standard viewpoint), then you will be responsible for the problems, if they occure. ("You made a bad choice!!!!")
If you go for a "Market Standard" ( fom a M$ standard viewpoint), then you may be able to blame M$ as everybody recognise their weakness. (" Ah, it's a windows crahs, I can't help...")

I would ask: In case of problems, how would the customers react to the explenation/excuse you will provide?

But it's true that you will minimise the risk of crash with a good app based on OS2.

Problems (crash, viruses,...) with M$ based solution are common, and peoples may accept it.
Problems with non M$ based solution may be rare, but how will peoples accept it?? -> accusation: "Why didn't you used a standars solution?!"

At the end, the choice may be more a political choice than a technical choice. Sadly.

Personaly, I can only encourage you to go for a OS2/eCS solution based. But wanted to share my thought.

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  vingfel vingfel@excite.com
Date  :  08 Mar, 2005 on 12:00
Just curious...

After you take the decision, can you tell us which decision it was, and why?

Thank you very much

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  zizban zizban@adelphia.net
Date  :  08 Mar, 2005 on 18:56
I just eCS 1.2 installed today and its spiffy. My only complaint is that all the default desktop backgrounds are "too light" for my poor old eyes. I am hoping to find the old default background from Warp4.

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  Fahrvenugen
Date  :  08 Mar, 2005 on 18:56

I think Vingfel has brought up a few good points - when problems arise with a system, and that system is built on top of a Microsoft operating system, people will accept the excuse that "the system crashed" or "the system is / was slow or frozen" if problems arise. However on the other hand I'd point out a few things:

1. You've indicated you're looking at a phone system. People have come to expect computers to crash, to freeze up, or to be slow. But when dealing with a telephone system, people expect the phone system to work - and to work reliably. Phone systems have been reliable since the days of the old manual switchboards, and we all have come to expect this. Reliability I would guess is a top priority.

2. Most customers and clients are not going to know what operating system is running the phone system. Think about it: When you call your utilities company, cable company, or anywhere else with an automated system, do you stop to think: Is this system running under Windows, Unix, OS/2, or something else? I doubt that question comes to mind - as Cyberspittle pointed out - in many systems there is an assumption that it is a solid state, custom built system. A lot of people don't realize that in many of these systems there is a standard Intel-based computer running it.

With these points in mind, a few items I'd consider is to look at actual uptime and problem reports that customers have. You can probably get some of this information from the vendors themselves, but ideally if you can contact some of the companies who have actually bought the system you're considering, and ask them some of the questions you're concerned about. Assuming you've looked at both Windows based systems and the system based on OS/2 / eCS, ask the vendors for references. Talk to those references and to find out what problems (if any) they have with their systems.

Ultimately any package is only as good as its programming. OS/2 / eCS is a stable operating system where security and reliability of the OS itself is not much of a difficulty, but if the application running on top of it is programmed poorly, then you can run into problems. Windows can also be set up to be secure and reliable, but again if the application it is running is programmed poorly, you're likely to run into problems. The best way to find answers to these questions is to talk to people actually using (and supporting) these systems.

Subject  :  Re:Question about eCom
Author  :  RadarCat
Date  :  10 Mar, 2005 on 06:49

Fahrvenugen (08 Mar, 2005 18:56):
Reliability I would guess is a top priority.

I would go for reliability.

RadarCat, Webmaster

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