Claiming that it does not affect its commitment to Advanced Peer-to-Peer Interworking, Cisco Systems Inc has proposed a new standard for routing IBM’s SNA traffic over TCP/IP backbones, to be based on IBM Corp’s Data Link Switching protocol. The Menlo Park, California company said that the technology should be developed in partnership by router vendors, […]
Claiming that it does not affect its commitment to Advanced Peer-to-Peer Interworking, Cisco Systems Inc has proposed a new standard for routing IBM’s SNA traffic over TCP/IP backbones, to be based on IBM Corp’s Data Link Switching protocol. The Menlo Park, California company said that the technology should be developed in partnership by router vendors, including itself and IBM, in order to ensure that it evolves into an open standard. The rationale behind the proposal is that, while Cisco still believes that APPI provides all of the necessary functionality for integrating SNA into a multi-vendor network, it feels that some users’ networks will not require this level of complexity. According to Jeff Paine, the company’s Corporate Marketing Manager, the proposed new technology is a subset of the problems addressed by APPI, and a market requirement regardless of whether APPI is superior. Cisco says that it will continue work on APPI alongside any Data Link Switching development project. The proposal was made at a recent meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force, where the company suggested the formation of a workgroup to look at the question of routing SNA using Data Link Switching. According to Computerworld, IBM and Wellfleet Communications Corp have already expressed interest in joining the group. That companies such as these – especially IBM – should come on board is seen as crucial for the plan: it was developed at least in part because of the schism which has developed between IBM with its APPN strategy, and the Cisco-inspired APPI rival. 3Com Corp has, however, already added a note of caution: director of network technology John Pickens says that he is in favour of developing routing technology over Data Link Switching but believes that the Internet Task Force may not be the best forum for the work, commenting that I am slightly biased in favour of doing it within the APPN Implementors Workshop. While this might be expected from the company – it eschewed joining the APPI Forum, and showed its commitment to APPN by being one of only two companies (the other being Novell Inc) to get advance copies of the code – Cisco will have to try to win the company over to get the broad base of support it needs. Basing the technology on Data Link Switching does, however, get over one hurdle of ensuring that the technology is open: IBM has already submitted the DLS specifications to the Task Force as a request for comment, indicating that it wants to push it as an open standard. On the more negative side, using DLS means considerable work will be needed before it becomes a workable technology: indeed, Computerworld says suggestions already made by potential workgroup members include ability to route IBM Synchronous Data Link Control traffic from an IBM cluster controller across unlimited hops to an IBM host; providing Ethernet support; the ability to route transmissions by class of service; enhancements to the flow-control mechanism; and ability to handle IBM PU2.1 devices over SDLC.