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SNA called a dying protocol

By Rawn Shah

September  1995
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For a first-time show, TCP/IP Expo held in San Jose in August drew an impressive array of vendors and developers. Highlights included a plenary panel of TCP/IP technologists, who agreed Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6, aka IPng, IP next generation) software will be available within a year or two, but offered varying opinions of when the software will actually be of proper use due to the large investment in current IP technology. In a special session, another panel concluded the next revision of Windows Sockets won't be ready until year's end.

Plenary questions focused in part on the influence of IPv6 (the successor to the current Internet Protocol), Microsoft's Windows 95, and other protocols such as SNA on the current level of TCP/IP technology and protocol standards.

The Windows 95 question was significant, especially to the PC TCP/IP developers. Although Microsoft will be providing a TCP/IP stack with Windows 95, all plenary members were quick to raise their hands when asked if they felt their products were superior. Most indicated that the new market will be for applications rather than stacks that will fall into a smaller niche for high performance, or advanced technology stacks. Speakers said Microsoft would likely develop only the technologies that it needs for its own software and not follow all the proper standards of IP technology as needed by clients.

Discussion of SNA did not last long. The panel as well as attendees concluded it is a dying protocol with only a few years left. Stuart Vance, VP of engineering at TGV, pointed out that even mainframe environments are moving towards TCP/IP, reducing the need for SNA.

Panel members represented FTP Software, NetManage, CompuServe Internet Division/SPRY, SunSoft, and TGV.


Windows Sockets still draw a crowd
With Winsock 2.0 still incomplete, attendees flocked to a special session on Windows Sockets offered by the key developers of the 1.1 standard.

Dave Anderson of Intel, the current head of Winsock 2.0, indicated that there has not been a great deal of interest for an implementation of Winsock 2.0 for the Windows 3.1 and 3.11 architectures; Intel previously indicated it may develop such an implementation, but now says there is not enough demand for it. Intel will instead work with Microsoft and other developers to expedite the Win32 version.

Developers also indicated that work on Winsock 2.0 has been slower because of the mass of disparate technologies that they have had to integrate. Whereas Winsock 1.1 was developed with the help of a handful of programmers and designers, Winsock 2.0 was developed by committee to enable full representation by all protocol vendors.

This slower process has led to falling interest in the development of AppleTalk services for Winsock 2.0. Nevertheless, the development of other protocols for Winsock 2.0, including TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, DECnet, and OSI, are continuing as scheduled. Microsoft is planning to release an SDK for Winsock 2.0 by the end of the year. --Rawn Shah

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