A new development in the labyrinthine world of networking looks likely to get a host of presently incompatible systems talking to each other. In a dramatic move, Netwise Inc, Novell Inc and Sun Microsystems have banded together to develop and combine their respective networking technologies, which, they claim, will enable distributed shrinc-vrapped software applications to […]
A new development in the labyrinthine world of networking looks likely to get a host of presently incompatible systems talking to each other. In a dramatic move, Netwise Inc, Novell Inc and Sun Microsystems have banded together to develop and combine their respective networking technologies, which, they claim, will enable distributed shrinc-vrapped software applications to run across a range of operating systems, hardware architecture and networks – without modification (CI No 1,262). At the core of the project, Boulder, Colorado-based Netwise is to incorporate an enhanced version of Sun’s RPC Remote Procedure Call library and associated XDR external data representation protocols into the next release of its RPC Tool network development system, along with Open Systems Interconnection, specifications, levels 5 to 7. Support for Sun’s new RPC technology, which is based upon the transport layer interface co-developed with AT&T for the forthcoming Unix System V.4, provides independence from the underlying network transport such as TCP/IP and Open Systems Interconnection – and means that distributed applications using this interface need not know what type of transport is actually running in a host system. Novell markets RPC Tool and other Netwise technology as part of its popular NetWare networking software, and is to incorporate the new technology into future releases sometime next year. Previous versions of NetWare will be upwardly compatible with these – the same functionality should also find its way into Portable NetWare at a later date. Novell is estimated to have more than 4m personal computers tied into its various networking products – potentially this could deliver a huge range of previously unavailable interconnection options into the hands of Unix system users, enabling distributed applications to run across hetrogeneous networks of personal computer local netsworks, workstations, mainframes, and operating systems in which the new RPC is installed. Although this is the general thrust of the development, the specifics are unlikely to become crystal clear until the thing is released. Sun has placed the new RPC specifications in the public domain and will freely license source code, maintaining that applications developed under its Network File System will be object code-compatible with each other and therefore should run right across any network incorporating the technology without recompilation. Novell’s position is less clear: it has indicated that applications developed under NetWare 386, which includes the new functionality, may only be source code-compatible, meaning that recompilation would have to take place. In addition the move is likely to give a big boost to Sun’s efforts to establish its Open Network Computing system – of which Network File System and Remote Procedure Calls are a part – as a standard. The company is presently fighting hard to compete with the likes of Apollo and its Network Computing System which already numbers Open Software Foundation members IBM, DEC and Hewlett-Packard amongst its supporters. Netwise has already expressed its interest in submitting distributed computing technology in response to the Open Software Foundation’s Request.