Storage specialist Epoch Systems Inc of Westborough, Massachusetts, used Unix Expo to sign up for joint marketing agreements with three RISC-based hardware manufacturers - Sun Microsystems Inc, MIPS Computer Systems Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co - for a new storage management system for distributed applications on networks of Unix systems. Renaissance, claimed to be the first product to address the storage management needs of client-server architecture systems, includes a set of distributed applications that enable information stored on magnetic disks at workstation and server level to be automatically managed, backed-up and archived. Renaissance uses Sun's Open Network Computing remote procedure call technology, and the company is working on further distributed computing products using the same technology. The first application under the Renaissance tag is InfiniteStorage, for managing the magnetic disk space on networked workstations and servers. The product is designed to organise all types of storage media into an orderly, logical hierarchy; to extend across multi-vendor hardware and software systems; manage all of the network storage for efficiency of cost and performance; and enhance productivity of users and administrators. As disks fill the software automatically scans them and migrates the least used files to an Epoch-1 server centrally located on the network. When inactive files are accessed, they are automatically retrieved from the Epoch-1 and are loaded back onto the local high speed magnetic disks. Renaissance costs from $1,500 to $15,000. With Europe's computer and semiconductor industries faltering and its telecommunications industry under challenge from AT&T Co and Far Eastern manufacturers, France SA is scrambling to put some backbone into the weakest players and urge them to combine with other European firms rather than sell out to Americans or Japanese. French industry minister Roger Fauroux is in despair over Groupe Bull SA, which is scheduled to announce a radical restructuring today: he wants the company to ally with either Siemens AG or Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA, but none of the three parties is interested, not least because of product conflicts. Unisys Corp is an awful warning of the dangers of putting two incompatible mainframe families together, and while it would be technically feasible to build a single processor family to run both Bull's GCOS 7 and Siemens' BS2000 operating systems, memories in Munich of the Unidata betrayal in 1976, when the French government unilaterally pulled Compagnie Internationale de l'Informatique out of the Unidata alliance with Siemens and Philips NV and merged it with Honeywell Bull would leave Siemens very reluctant to put its business at the mercy of French politicians again. With Bull and Olivetti having the two biggest European-owned personal computer manufacturing businesses, a combination of the two would have dire consequences for employment. On semiconductors, Roger Fauroux would very much like to see SGS-Thomson Microelectronics NV to combine with Siemens' chip businecs, but told the Assemblee Nationale that while Siemens was piling up serious losses in its chip business, it was at present rather allergic to the idea of the rapprochement that we want. SGS-Thomson, that is to say France and Italy, are working well. We have provided financial support, but that is manifestly not enough. In the same session, Fauroux described computers as the black spot of the electronics sector, one about which we are extremely worried because of the loss of $360m recorded for the first half of 1990. On telecommunications, Alcatel NV has implicitly identified itself as the most likely bidder for STC Plc by rushing to Madrid to try to persuade Telefonica de Espana SA to throw in its lot with European Alcatel instead of pursuing its evolving alliance with AT&T Co. Pierre Suard, chairman of Alcatel's parent, Compagnie Generale d'Electricite SA held talks with Telefonica's chairman last month, and this week visited Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez to plead his suit that Tel
efonica should get closer to Alcatel rather than AT&T. Having trumped all the Italian aces by doing a deal with Fiat SpA to acquire control of Fiat's Telettra SpA, Alcatel wants to make the most of the fact that Telefonica also has 10% of Telettra. Telefonica does have a minority stake in Alcatel's Spanish subsidiary, and CGE would like it to exchange this for a stake in Alcatel itself. Telefonica had been interested in participating in CGE's acquisition of the majority in ITT Corp's telecommunications arm that led to the creation of Alcatel, but baulked at the price.