Eye on the Competition

Up-to-the-minute news on Sun's rivals

August  1998
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SCO Forum: aiming for secure Web with Tarantella upgrade

Santa Cruz, CA (August, 17 1998) -- Santa Cruz Organization Inc. unveiled here today a new version of Tarantella, a server-based software product designed to allow users to access applications in a cross-platform computing environment using the World Wide Web.

Tarantella Version 1.2 includes new security features designed to ensure the integrity of information that passes between a client and its server, and a load-balancing technology to allow the software to scale more easily, SCO officials said.

The product works with several proprietary Unix operating systems including Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris and IBM Corp.'s AIX, as well as SCO's own UnixWare and UnixWare 7 platforms.

Tarantella is being used mostly in non-SCO environments at present, but that suits SCO just fine. The company hopes Tarantella's adoption by big businesses will make the SCO's brand name a more familiar one in enterprise computing markets -- where SCO increasingly wants to be seen as a player, Doug Michels, SCO's president and CEO, said in an interview.

"I think what you see is UnixWare moving up the enterprise and Tarantella coming down from the top -- we expect they'll meet in the middle," he said.

SCO's Tarantella division operates as a "virtual start-up" within SCO, and has the makings of a great company in its own right, Michels said. He dismissed suggestions that SCO might spin the division off into a separate entity.

Tarantella's inclusion of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and RSA cryptography are designed to ensure data travels securely over the Internet. Tarantella also provides load balancing of user sessions across multiple servers, designed to optimize performance and the availability of applications. Version 1.2 provides load balancing across Unix system, multi-user Windows NT, and mainframe application servers, SCO said.

Tarantella also includes a "control center" that can be accessed from the Web for centralized administration purposes, SCO said.

MCI Corp., MovieFone, Deloitte Consulting, and the U.S.'s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) all joined SCO in a press conference here today to talk about how they have been successfully testing Tarantella in various capacities within their enterprises.

NASA used the technology on a Pentium Pro-based UnixWare 7 system to provide some of its users with access to mainframe, Unix systems and Windows applications using a Web browser, NASA officials said.

Due to ship in the U.S. August 29 for SPARC Solaris, IBM AIX, HP-UX, SCO UnixWare and UnixWare 7, Tarantella version 1.2 will be priced at US$395 per user. The Tarantella security pack will sell for $50, officials said.

Dates for when Tarantella will be released outside the U.S. were not immediately available.

--James Niccolai, IDG News Service


SCO Forum: SCO chief looks to UnixWare 7 for growth

Santa Cruz, CA(August 17, 1998) -- On day one of its annual conference here today the Santa Cruz Operation Inc. boasted growing momentum behind its UnixWare 7 operating system, which the company's top official pitched as a dependable, scalable platform for use in enterprise computing environments.

SCO announced that Oracle Corp. has released Oracle Applications and the latest version of its Oracle8 database software for UnixWare 7. Informix Corp. later this week will announce additional support for the SCO platform in its database software, said Doug Michels, SCO's president and CEO, in his keynote address.

In addition, SCO said it will ship this month a new release of OpenServer, its operating system targeted at small and medium-sized businesses. Version 5.0.5 adds streaming media technology from RealNetworks Inc. and increased support for network computing that allows mobile workers to more easily access a network, the company said.

SCO also unveiled a new version of Tarantella, a cross-platform, server-based product that lets users access Unix and other proprietary server applications over the Web. Release 1.2 includes enhanced features designed to make communications more secure between a client device and the server, SCO said.

But the focus of Michels' opening remarks was UnixWare 7, and how the company believes the operating system it released in March this year will allow SCO to steal business from market leaders like Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s HP-UX, which dominate the high end of the Unix computing market.

UnixWare 7 combines elements of SCO's OpenServer Release 5 and UnixWare 2 operating systems. SCO originally acquired the UnixWare source code from Novell Inc.

"Bigger, more powerful servers used today must be more reliable, dependable and fully functional than ever before, and SCO's Unix can offer that," said Michels, who delivered his keynote outdoors at the leafy campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

"We really want to start getting more success in the enterprise market," he said later.

For users, SCO's UnixWare 7 could potentially provide a lower-cost alternative to Unix operating systems from Sun, HP and Data General Corp., which run on proprietary RISC (reduced instruction set computing) chip architectures, said Jean Bozman, an analyst with International Data Corp.

"RISC systems have historically been 30 to 40 percent more expensive than Intel-based systems" to purchase and maintain, Bozman said. However, SCO has yet to fully demonstrate that UnixWare 7 is scalable enough and robust enough for use in large enterprise environments, she added.

To help position itself more as a player in big business, SCO tomorrow will make a joint announcement with Compaq Computer Corp. that involves Compaq subsidiary Tandem Computer Corp.'s Non-Stop clustering technology, SCO's Michels said.

The companies are expected to announce a program that will bring six-node clustering capabilities to UnixWare 7-based Compaq servers in a broad range of markets, an SCO spokesman said, though he declined to be more specific.

Growing support for Tarantella among large business customers will increase the brand recognition of SCO in the enterprise market, and lead to further adoption of UnixWare 7, Michels said. Tarantella runs on several Unix operating systems including Solaris and HP-UX.

SCO is targeting the enterprise in part because profits there are greater, but also because Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT is steadily nibbling away at sales of lower-end Unix operating system software including SCO's OpenServer, analysts said.

To reach the more lucrative markets, SCO must first increase awareness among customers of its high-end Unix platform. It should do this by targeting its marketing efforts less at tech-savvy IS managers and more at business managers, who are increasingly the people who write the checks for corporate IT purchases, said Dan Kusnetzky, program director for operating environments and serverware at International Data Corp.

One Unix systems integrator at the conference said UnixWare 7 is a solid product, but that the company needs to make some refinements before it is ready for prime-time enterprise use. In particular, UnixWare 7 needs more device drivers, said David Gloria, vice president of Computer Integrators Inc. of Richardson, Texas.

"It's a great product; the performance is there," Gloria said.

Meanwhile, SCO said it remains committed to developing and supporting the OpenServer platform, revenues from which accounted for almost 80 percent of sales in its most recent financial quarter, Michels said.

The Unix system market in 1997 was more or less evenly split in unit terms between servers running on RISC processors and servers running Intel-type chips, Michels said. Of the 50 percent running on Intel-type processors, about four-fifths of those machines run SCO software, he said, referring to SCO figures.

SCO OpenServer Release 5.0.5 is scheduled to ship at the end of this month, priced at US$699 for the host system and $1,399 for a five-user system, SCO said.

The Year 2000 provides an unprecedented opportunity for the Unix industry to sell more of its software and services, as IS managers use the impending crisis as an excuse to replace systems and software they have long sought to upgrade, Michels said. That is especially the case since the delivery of Microsoft's Windows NT 5.0 slipped back to beyond 2000, he said.

"We're looking at the greatest opportunity for upgrade, retrofit and application-rejuvenation revenue we've seen in the history of the computing industry," Michels said.

The growth in popularity of freeware versions of Unix such as Unix-like operating system Linux also provides a boost, rather than a threat, to SCO's UnixWare since they enhance the credibility of Unix in general and lead to the creation of more development tools and Unix applications, Michels said.

SCO is in the process of adding Linux binary compatibility to UnixWare 7, allowing users to run Linux software on SCO servers "right out of the box," Michels said.

SCO has undergone several changes in the last year, including an executive reshuffle and an increased focus on distributing its software electronically rather than packaged in boxes, Michels said. The company has reduced its inventory in that time from around eight weeks to almost zero, cutting its costs along the way, he said.

SCO has also tried to improve relations with customers by making it easier to contact the company's sales staff and by providing more flexible licensing terms, Michels said.

"I don't think SCO has always been the easiest company to do business with, but we've done a lot of work there. If that's not working, let me know and we will fix it," he said.

Tarantella Version 1.2 is due to ship in the U.S. on August 29. Pricing will remain at $395 per user. The Security pack will sell for $50 per user, SCO said.

--James Niccolai, IDG News Service


Nasdaq taps NT for surveillance system, insiders say `show me'

New York (August 17, 1998) -- Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. has chosen Microsoft Corp.'s NT Server operating system for the new version of its MarketWatch trading analysis application, a move that Microsoft hopes will help make the OS a credible choice for users' mission-critical systems.

However, the implementation won't be completed until the end of 2000, and industry insiders are skeptical about Nasdaq's plans for the system.

A brand-name customer like Nasdaq is important for Microsoft's attempt to convince users that NT is scalable for industrial-strength applications. While NT's 1997 unit shipments of 1.2 million copies outsold the various flavors of Unix -- its main rival for server OS installations -- NT installations are typically confined to groups of 25 users and are mainly for file and print sharing, according to US market research company International Data Corp. in Framingham, MA.

The new Nasdaq MarketWatch installation will only be used by 25 users initially, but more importantly for Microsoft's quest to push the NT scalability envelope, the application eventually will have to be capable of analyzing more than 1,000 transactions per second, going further than the number-crunching capabilities of current commercial NT applications, according to both Nasdaq and Microsoft officials.

The MarketWatch application itself analyzes intraday Nasdaq trading, and has to complete its analysis of each trade that occurs within a timeframe of 90 seconds, according to market officials. Intraday trading refers to trading occurring during a given day, as opposed to across several days or weeks

"MarketWatch is a kind of sanity check, alerting us when a trade just doesn't make sense," said Nasdaq Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer Gregor Bailer. For example, if someone sold Microsoft at US$10 per share rather $100, the system would help the market officials identify what would most likely be a mistake, in which someone forgot to type out the proper number of zeroes when issuing the trade order, said Bailer.

But the system also is supposed to check to see if trades follow the rules, such as a trading suspension on a stock right before or after financial results for the stock are announced. The application also checks for suspicious trading patterns -- for example, several large trades of a stock right before an earnings announcement, which could indicate insider trading, Bailer said.

This is a sensitive issue for Nasdaq, Bailer acknowledged, especially after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) censured Nasdaq in 1996 and an earlier US Department of Justice inquiry accused large brokers trading Nasdaq stocks of colluding to manipulate stock prices to keep their fees high. The charges led to 1997 lawsuits and fines.

The MarketWatch revamp comes also as the trading industry scrutinizes the Nasdaq merger with the American Stock Exchange, announced in March of this year. The MarketWatch system will also analyze Amex trades.

MarketWatch does not handle transaction processing and stock prices for the Nasdaq exchange itself, Bailer noted. The actual management of exchange prices and transactions is done by a Unisys Corp. 4800 mainframe host system and servers from the Tandem Computers Inc. unit of Compaq Computer Corp.

The new MarketWatch system will download the trade data via middleware technology from Tibco Inc. of Palo Alto, CA, which Nasdaq is also in the process of implementing.

The current MarketWatch system runs on Tandem machines using the Tandem Application Language (TAL) and Sun Microsystems Inc. workstations on a proprietary Unix language, Bailer said. The current application is based on rule-driven artificial intelligence software.

The new NT system will run on Unisys Aquanta machines, with the first implementation likely to use about 15 Aquantas, typically four-processor boxes, incorporating 400-MHz Intel Corp. processors. Software for the pilot system currently running is built using NT 4.0 Server, beta versions of NT 5.0 "security components," Microsoft foundation libraries, and displays developed with C++ and Java, Bailer said. Microsoft SQL Server database, the software vendor's Transaction Server and replication technology are also being integrated into the system, Bailer said.

Some parts of the MarketWatch application will run on single Aquantas, while other parts will run on a cluster of Aquantas, Bailer said.

On the client side, Windows 95 or Windows NT workstation software will be used, Bailer said.

A team of Nasdaq developers is working with a Wall Street-based systems integrator called Micro Modeling Associates Inc. to develop the neural network heuristics that constitute the rewritten core of the program, said Bailer.

The reasons for the overhaul are several. First, Nasdaq now typically experiences close to billion-share days where a billion shares trade hands. Twice this year, Nasdaq has seen billion-share-plus days, where the current MarketWatch system has to be able to handle 400 to 600 transactions per second to keep up with trading at peak times of day.

But Nasdaq soon expects to regularly experience 2-billion share days, with peak days at 4 billion shares. For a 2-billion share day, the system will have to handle between 800 and 1,200 transactions per second. And the system needs to offer the option of scaling up, by adding additional processors and hardware clusters, as the market moves toward 8-billion share days, Bailer said.

By moving from a semi-proprietary software infrastructure to a system with more of an open architecture, Nasdaq sees the chance of adding the necessary flexibility to the system. As NT sales boom, expertise in NT-based systems is getting easy to come by, so it will be easier to find people capable of fine-tuning the system in the future.

Also, software used by traders and brokers on Nasdaq is beginning to move from dumb-terminal Unix systems to NT. So it makes sense for MarketWatch to also move in step with the trend, giving Nasdaq the option of sharing programming expertise and standard interface links among its various units, Bailer said.

While the Nasdaq host-based, trading software infrastructure won't be running on NT, MarketWatch will have to "shadow" the exchange, keeping up with it as it performs crucial market surveillance duties, Bailer noted. "It's a kind of proof of concept for NT's ability to keep pace in a high-volume, mission-critical environment," he said.

As such, it's an important selling point for Microsoft, which urged Nasdaq to talk about the system with the press, acknowledged Bailer.

The potential strategic value of the Nasdaq system for Microsoft's NT pitch to users was confirmed by John Daus, who manages financial sector relationships for Microsoft in the mid-Atlantic US.

"This is the first commercial (NT) system that is hitting 1,000 transactions per second," said Daus.

Besides the fact that the system will test Microsoft's clustering technology and number-crunching capabilities, it also shows "the workability of Microsoft's business model for these types of installations," Daus said.

The Microsoft model is a team approach, Daus stressed, rather than an outsourcing situation where one vendor or integrator supplies all the hardware, software and development expertise.

"We focus on developing software and marketing it ... this (Nasdaq) system is being developed with Microsoft consulting on system requirements, Micro Modeling financial system expertise and Unisys," he said.

A Micro Modeling official knowledgeable about the installation could not be reached for comment.

But for all Nasdaq's and Microsoft's upbeat talk, analysts are skeptical.

"I say, `Show me.' I wish them well, but if this system isn't going to be finished for another year and a half or more ... they're going to depend on Microsoft coming out with new versions of NT, SQL Server, and Transaction Server," said Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst with IDC.

"This may not be the actual Nasdaq exchange running on NT, but it's still about money, and I just don't see this type of thing working on NT 4.0 and current Microsoft clustering software. Making sure application processes (work) in unison across multiple clusters is difficult," Kusnetzky said.

In fact, though IDC predicts NT Server's installed base will surpass Unix in 1999, over half of NT Server's new license shipments last year were only for file/print server use, while 10 percent of Unix shipments were attributed to this usage.

In addition, to compare future MarketWatch transaction per second capabilities to those of other systems, an "apples-to-apples" comparison should be made, where the type of transactions being handled are equivalent among the systems being compared, said another analyst, who did not wish to speak for attribution. Simple transactions are easier to analyze than more complex transactions, the analyst pointed out.

So while Microsoft may score some points for adding a brand-name customer to its NT server user list, the system itself is not likely to win applause from industry insiders until it is up and running live -- and Nasdaq could face several speed bumps along the way before the system's planned completion at the end of 2000.

--Marc Ferranti, IDG News Service


IBM to integrate enterprise software with Tivoli by year's end

San Francisco (August 12, 1998) -- IBM has started making some of its enterprise-level software products ready for use with the network management system made by its subsidiary Tivoli Systems, the companies said today.

Among the products IBM plans to make "Tivoli-ready" by the end of the year are its MQSeries, CICS, DB2, and Universal Data Base as well as the Domino Web server software made by IBM subsidiary Lotus Development Corp., IBM spokeswoman Jennifer McNeil said.

Tivoli's products are designed to enable customers to manage hardware and software in their networks from a single console, rather than having to move about the network and make changes in multiple locations.

Today's announcement means that when a customer buys one of the Tivoli-ready IBM products it will work with Tivoli's management system straight out of the box, the companies said in a statement.

The success of Tivoli depends in part on its ability to persuade software and hardware makers to build support for its management system in their products, and the news that IBM will make its software Tivoli-compatible is a boost for the company, although not an entirely unpredictable one.

Much of IBM's hardware already supports the Tivoli Management Framework, including IBM's new desktop PCs, Thinkpad notebooks and NetFinity servers. IBM's said also today that its RS/6000, AS/400 and S/390 servers will be Tivoli-ready by the end of the year.

In April this year industry heavyweights Intel, Microsoft, and 3Com. added their names to the roster of companies that support the management software.

Compaq introduces new Proliant server

Boston (August 4, 1998) Compaq Computer Corp. officially unveiled its Proliant 1850R server, which is intended to replace the 850R and offer what company officials say is a substantial performance boost.

The server, aimed at corporate data centers, was designed after Compaq got feedback from users of the Proliant series and kept hearing that "large enterprises are more and more constrained on the space they have for servers," said Mary Christ, director of product marketing for Compaq's Internet solutions business unit. Fourteen of the 1850R servers can be mounted in a rack to save space, but provide more power than the product line has offered before, Christ said.

The 1850R platform includes a World Wide Web server, an electronic commerce server and a firewall server that is part of Compaq's Axent series.

Although the configuration of the 1850R will vary by region around the world, a typical configuration includes a 400-MHz Pentium II processor, mirrored RAID (redundant arrays of inexpensive disks), 64 megabytes of 100-MHz SDRAM ECC (error correcting code) DIMM (dual in-line memory module), 512 kilobytes of Level 2 cache, two 4.3-gigabyte hot-pluggable wide Ultra SCSI-2 hard disk drives, integrated dual channel wide Ultra SCSI-3 controller, smart 2SL array controller and four full-length slots. The price on that configuration is US$6,100.

The 1850R servers can be serviced while still in the rack and allow for tool-free cover removal -- easier servicing is something else that IS managers have told Compaq they want, said Mukund Ghangurde, manager of product marketing for servers at Compaq.

The server is part of the hardware component of Compaq's ActiveAnswers program, which was introduced in early July. The program is supposed to help IS departments more effectively plan, deploy and implement software, including SAP R/3 and Web-based systems, and to determine hardware needs for those applications.

"What we're trying to do is take the guesswork out of it," Christ said.

--Nancy Weil, IDG News Service


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