Over the last three years, and despite the absence of formal agreements or marketing pacts, Beame & Whiteside Software Ltd, Empirical Tools and Technologies, Epilogue Technology Corp, Intercon Systems Corp, Innosoft International Inc and TGV Inc have forged a partnership. Though nothing is written down, they share technology, customers and expertise. This unique arrangement comes […]
Over the last three years, and despite the absence of formal agreements or marketing pacts, Beame & Whiteside Software Ltd, Empirical Tools and Technologies, Epilogue Technology Corp, Intercon Systems Corp, Innosoft International Inc and TGV Inc have forged a partnership. Though nothing is written down, they share technology, customers and expertise. This unique arrangement comes courtesy of the Internet – the burgeoning series of linked networked which has a reputation for folksy informality, and through which the founders of the companies originally met. All six businesses concentrate on serving the Internet Community, and all six are careful to avoid treading on each other’s toes; differentiating themselves in terms of product and market. So for example Ontario-based Beame & Whiteside produces TCP/IP and Network File System software for the personal computer, whereas Herndon, Virginia-based Intercon does much the same, but for the Macintosh. Likewise Epilogue Technology also has a TCP/IP stack, but only sells it to OEM manufactures, alongside its main product which is a portable SNMP implementation. Meanwhile Empirical Tools also has SNMP management software, but which sells to end users rather than OEM. In fact start-up Empirical is the odd man out here, bringing formal links into the circle for the first time – the company actually has partial funding from TGV and was founded last May by Karl Auerbach who was originally one of the founders of Epilogue Technology. Maintaining such an ephemeral pact sounds like hard work, but the companies say that it requires only the occasional small sacrifices; such as when TGV – which writes networking software for VMS and OpenVMS systems – opted against building MS-DOS and Mac client software. However Paul Rasmussen the company’s vice-president and general manager is dubious about whether other companies would be able to duplicate the arrangement: It requires that egos take a back seat he says and the players cannot suffer from a high degree of paranoia. In addition the companies are small, profitable and privately owned and in other industries, with bigger players, such a set-up could be construed as price fixing or collusion. David Preston, vice-president and general manager of Epilogue is more optimistic about the approach’s applicability, saying that it represents the fruition of the original spirit of the Internet. He also suggests that if the alliance ever became unstable in its present form the companies are more likely to get closer than further apart: Given the choice, I guess that we would all rather see a closer relationship in the future rather than go our separate ways he says. In the meantime the companies looked for a joint impact at the InterOP show in Paris, where they put on a joint presence and each co-ordinated releases to have new things to show there.
Beam & Whiteside offers NFS for MS-DOS, daemons for NT
Beam & Whiteside’s contribution is that BW-Services for Windows NT is ready to roll. Among a host of utilities this enables multiple users to log on to an NT server. When the details of NT were first announced it caused the company a jolt since its bread and butter had been adding TCP/IP to personal computer operating and Microsoft had already built that in. Luckily it had only built in the protocol stack, and BW-Services builds on this to provide Network File System client and server support, electronic mail and various INETD compatible daemons. This selection of daemons, or background processes, is particularly notable. The Telnet daemon for example will allow multiple remote users to log into the Windows NT machine and execute a console session – essentially making Windows NT a multi-user operating system. Others provide File Transfer Protocol, Line Printer and network chat facilities. Other Unix familiars are also present including Finger and the all important Cookie daemon that serve up a trite motto when so requested. The product will begin to ship at the same time as Windows NT. Meanwhile the company has unveiled its BW-Server which turns an M
S-DOS or Windows 80386 machine into a full Network File System server. It reckons that beats competitors in terms of flexibility, running on a Windows box as a background server and on a MS-DOS machine either in dedicated mode, or as a memory resident application in background. The product has a few nice touches, such as support for remote Network File System connections giving remote Unix users dial-in access to local net-based files or printers and the ability to turn the personal computer into a gateway so that if it is running BW-Server and is logged onto NetWare, remote Unix users can use the NetWare drives – and can use standard Unix file naming conventions, and not be stuck with MS-DOS’s 11-character limit.
Empirical Tools & Technologies starts off in network management
Empirical was the only one of the six to be missing from the briefing, on the reasonable grounds that it was busy rolling out pre-release copies of its first products to its first customers. In the crowded network management market the company hopes to differentiate itself by bringing artificial intelligence techniques to bear. It may an overworked term, but Empirical is aiming to produce tools that will let networks be virtually self-configuring and self-maintaining. It is having to start with the basics though – on the grounds that you have to gather the information before you can act on it. To that end, it has unveiled ‘Dr Watson, the Network Detective’s Assistant’ – a name which probably seemed like a good idea at the time. The software, due to ship this month consists of two modules – The Detective and the Detective’s Toolbox. The former sits on the net and gathers information about network devices, topology and capabilities. This is used to build a text file database which can either be read into another database package or the package can set to warn automatically of changes in the network. The facilities sound relatively basic at this stage, but it is pushing it on the grounds that it is cheap (though no prices are announced yet) and it will form the basis of more advanced pro-active analysis tools. Part of the cheapness will come from the fact that it runs on any 1Mb 80386 machine with 1Mb of hard disk and a standard Ethernet adaptor, the idea being that it is left plugged into the network all the time. Detective’s Toolbox bundles Unix networking standard utilities such as Ping, Traceroute and ARP.
TGV turns DEC boxes into NetWare and Network File System servers
Though there have been various attempts to produce NetWare services for VMS, TGV reckons that its new Multiware product will win in terms of performance. The company says that close integration with the OpenVMS kernel means that the product will give users access to VMS files printers and other resources with the same level of performance as native NetWare. In the UK the product costs between UKP500 and UKP10,000 depending on processor size and the number of users. It will also work with the new release of the company’s Multinet package which give VAXen and Alpha machines TCP/IP and NFS Server and Client capabilities.
Mac TCP/IP, DEC Mail better
The other companies made smaller additions – Intercon added Dispatcher/X.400 for QuickMail and Innosoft now has PMDF 4.2 in Europe. Epilogue shipped its SNMP version 2 software last month Epilogue’s forte is providing SNMP software – both management and agent ends – to OEM customers. Customers include a good collection of the big names in the local network market including the likes of 3Com Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc, Ungermann-Bass, SynOptics Communications Corp, National Semiconductor Corp and Hughes LAN Systems Inc. So when the company announced the other week that it would begin shipping SNMP Version 2 code at the end of May and that all of its customers will migrate, it bodes well for the new version of the standard. To date though, only one OEM customer, Sumitomo Electric USA Inc has publicly committed to produce an SNMPv2 compatible management station. The Envoy portable stack supports both old and new versions of SNMP and
licences start from $27,000. Emissary, a Management Interface Base editor, is from $5,500.