In a burst of well-timed ecumenism, Sparc International and a number of its key members have thrown their combined weight behind Unix System V.4 in an effort to build bigger application muscle. Sun Microsystems Inc, one of the players, has given up the SparcWare designation used by its Catalyst independent software vendor programme to the […]
In a burst of well-timed ecumenism, Sparc International and a number of its key members have thrown their combined weight behind Unix System V.4 in an effort to build bigger application muscle. Sun Microsystems Inc, one of the players, has given up the SparcWare designation used by its Catalyst independent software vendor programme to the group’s new binary-compatible branding scheme. From now on it will refer to products validated as working with all Sparc-compliant hardware and software, not just Sun. SparcWare is driven by the need to lower the support costs that eat up 50% of every software engineering dollar and expand the market for independent software vendors. It is specifically designed to evolve current Sparc-based applications to System V.4 and acknowledges Sun’s Solaris operating system only as an System V.4 subset. Their specification however, looks down the road and anticipates the need to provide for both Microsoft Corp NT interoperability and Windows NT SparcWare applications in future. The hardware vendors behind the move, only a slice of Sparc International’s 34-odd ironmongers, are described as early leaders in System V.4 and include Amdahl Corp, Cray Research Inc, Fujitsu Ltd, HaL Computer Systems Inc, Matsushita Electric Ltd, Solbourne Computer Inc, Sun, Tatung Science & Technology Inc and Hyundai America’s Axil Workstations. SunSoft Inc is also a backer. Their designs are on the huge non-Sparc market and the glass house on which IBM Corp has loosened its grip. The amount of money companies like Sun stand to save on testing and retesting applications is substantial. Sparc International estimates that 70% to 90% of applications can be common among system providers with no significant loss of competitive advantage. The enticement to independent software vendors is the range of stable Sparc systems from laptops to supercomputers coming to market. Initial support is coming from Accelr8 Technology Inc, Elan Computer Corp, Frame Technology Corp, Hunter Systems Inc, Lotus Development Corp, Oracle Corp, Objectivity Inc, Pure Software Inc, Quorum Software Systems Inc, SAS Institute Inc and Unidata Inc. Others are expected to join at UniForum. The goal is to have several hundred software houses rallied to the banner by the end of the year. However SparcWare’s gaze is firmly fixed on the 42 independent software vendors responsible for 60% of the product volume worldwide.
Sparc Compliance Definition 2
Compliance involves writing to the Sparc Compliance Definition 2 binary interface specification written and agreed to by Sparc International members last year. The Compliance Definition 2 contains the application-visible interfaces common among system providers and some vendor-specific optional interfaces. Sparc International has developed a System Compliance Test to verify hardware and operating systems compliance and the Sparc Application Verifier to test applications. Both hardware and software will be SparcWare branded. Sparc International will promote the breakthrough with a $2m advertising and public relations campaign supplemented by direct mail, applications catalogues and a user-accessible on-line database. The validation tests, which cost $2m to develop, have already been shaken out. The consortium is using two reference systems: a Sun-made Sparcstation 2 and a Fujitsu-made DS/90-7000 server running UXP/DS, Fujitsu’s version of System V.4. The programme will be taken to Japan in the fourth quarter. Efforts to internationalise the Sparc Compliance Definition 2 should bear first fruit in the autumn, initially based on X Window X11.5 before it moves to a finer degree of granularity with the proposed X11.6 standard made by SunSoft Inc and the Open Software Foundation. Sparc International will manage the gold specification and its roadmap and own the Sparc brand. Independent software vendors will be charged nothing until the second year when a $2,500 fee per company will be levied. Vendors, who will recruit the independent software vendors, will pledge that they will ensure that systems will run branded s
oftware for at least three years.