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MTA expands into 'real world' with first exhibition at COMDEX.

For the first time in its 23-year history, the M Technology Association, Silver Spring, Md., has taken its message to one of the largest mainstream computer shows in the nation. The MTA staffed a 400-square-foot booth at the COMDEX spring show in Atlanta last month, targeting value-added resellers in financial, healthcare, manufacturing and service sectors.

The genesis of the notion to exhibit at a major, general information industry trade show--a considerable change for the MTA, which runs its own annual trade show and conference--came as part of ongoing efforts to update the image of the M programming environment, said Peggy Hoffman, MTA's communications director.

The MTA's staff and association members knew that their technology's image could not compete with other perhaps more glitzy and graphical programming environments unless they targeted less traditional markets for M. They also knew they must work hard to make front-end applications look and feel like the kind of graphical user interfaces that end users in all markets are now more accustomed to seeing, according to Hoffman.

In 1992, decision makers at MTA began working with the Gartner Group, Inc., a Stamford, Conn., I/T consulting firm, on ways to update the M technology image and take its message of portability, scalability and interoperability to the business world outside of its own tightly knit M community.

"One of the recommendations from the Gartner Group was that the technology had stayed in its own circles in part because there had not been a marketing push outside those circles," explained Hoffman. "The feeling was that if we wanted to become a mainstream technology, you had to go where most of the rest of the players were."

The MTA chose COMDEX as one of the biggest trade shows that would give M vendors and users a chance to meet what Hoffman called "real, across-the-board kinds of other exhibitors and attendess."

COMDEX is undoubtedly a large show, drawing more than 90,000 attendees to its spring event, and more than 110,000 to its fall show in Las Vegas. Hoffman said COMDEX marketers claim little overlap in the people who attended the spring and fall shows, but Hoffman believes they must overlap to some degree. The draw for MTA to the spring COMDEX is the show's connection with Windows World, another exposition showcasing the windows environment. "It attracts a lot of people just because 'windowing' is a hot word," she said.

MTA targets mainstream resellers

At COMDEX, the MTA positioned itself as an association whose member vendors are already providing proven, workable database technologies grounded in M. The M language is not new, but it will be new to many developers and resellers in the financial, manufacturing and service markets, said Hoffman. And although M technologies are used throughout the healthcare sector, particularly by the Veteran's Administration, the MTA hopes to "make a bigger crack in the healthcare industry," Hoffman said.

"Our primary audience are developers and VARS, those people who are developing packages or systems for end users who need to be looking at a technology that will provide cost-effective answers," explained Hoffman. "Most importantly, though, the technology that can deal with needs today in terms of scalability, interoperability and portability."

Representatives of at least 10 M Technology vendors manned the MTA booth, including InterSystems Corporation, Micronetics Design, Digital Equipment Corporation, Arnet Corporation, CyberTools, Inc., ESI, Greystone Technology Corp., Sentient Systems, Inc., and SciCor, Inc.

Hoffman says these vendors are normally fierce competitors, but they have cooperated to design booth demonstrations that showcase the power of M technology. "They're sharing hardware and they're talking to each other and they're making things work between their systems. So that's the exciting thing, that you've got all these competitors sitting in this booth willing to say, 'Once you want to buy from us, we may be competing for your money and your time, but right now we want you to see the full breadth of the community.'"

Applications on M ran on a Hewlett-Packard UNIX box, an Alpha AXP, an RS/6000 and two personal computers, Hoffman said. One PC ran Windows NT, and the other ran Windows 3.1. "So we're showing different windowing environments as well as the UNIX DOS environment, the VMS, all different kinds of environments within this particular configuration," she added. "And we are networking the machines together so that people will be able to see the machines talking to each other and sharing data."

A new demonstration application called EsiObjects ran on most of the machines at the MTA COMDEX booth. Sentient Systems ran part of its Acclaim medical records system on the HP, RS/6000 and Intel-based machines. The idea of the applications was to demonstrate portability. Hoffman added, "You can have an application on a PC, you can port it over and run it on an RS/6000, you can port it over and run it on an Alpha." The EsiObjects demo ran on several boxes, she said.

M Technology Association Demo

To receive the M Technology Association's new demonstration diskette for preview, readers may contact:

Peggy Hoffman

M Technology Association

1738 Elton Road, Suite 205

Silver Spring, MD 20903

301-431-4070 - phone

301-431-0017 - fax The interactive software demo runs on a 386 or better in Windows 3.1.
COPYRIGHT 1994 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special section on M technology, a programming language derived from MUMPS, or Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multiprocessing System; M Technology Assn
Publication:Health Management Technology
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jun 1, 1994
Words:874
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