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Macintosh setting a place for itself.

First came the alliance with Digital Equipment in 1988 to provide Mac-to-VAX compatibility. Then last October Apple joined forces with IBM to integrate Macs seamlessly into SNA networks.

Now Apple has taken the third step in its strategy to join the mainstream of corporate networking: introducing products based on open systems standards.

At Interop East in Washington, D.C., Apple announced three new products utilizing Open Systems Interconnection protocols. The OSI products are intended to help corporate users exchange messages and complex information in mixed computer environments and to offer an OSI foundation for third party developers to build on.

MacX.400 enables multiplatform network users to send E-mail messages back and forth. MacODA implements the Open Document Architecture standard so that users on different vendors' systems can exchange compound documents, including text, graphics and images. MacOSI Transport gives third party developers the tools to create additional OSI services for the Mac.

The MacX.400 server comes with a full OSI stack that lets users connect to AppleTalk and other LANs and to wide area networks, including public X.400 networks and private X.400 backbones. It also supports mail exchange with remote sites over X.25 networks using MacX.25, the only product Apple has delivered since announcing OSI support in 1989.

In a nod to its IBM alliance, Apple also announced Macintosh TCP/IP support for token ring, and revealed it will ship a Simple Network Management Protocol Management Information Base (SNMP MIB) for the Macintosh OS this summer. The MIB will allow Macintosh computers to be managed by any SNMP console, including IBM's NetView and Digital's DECmcc network management system.

Following up

Apple's new TCP/IP and SNMP products cover two of the areas of development specified in its agreement with IBM last fall. Under that agreement, Apple also licensed the source code for AppleTalk protocols to IBM so that Mac, OS/2 and DOS-based PCs can share files, query corporate databases and access a broad range of communications services through a common OS/2 server.

The other areas involved Mac-to-AS/400 integration and improved support on the Macintosh for IBM's Advanced Peer-to-Peer Networking (APPN) directory and routing services.

APPN is an extension of SNA that makes it easier to distribute applications, information and other resources to users on the network--a key requirement for enterprise computing and a critical element of the IBM/Apple alliance.

Even before its agreement with IBM, Apple had seen SNA connectivity as the path to corporate acceptance. It had already developed an array of SNA software under its SNAps family, including 3270 emulation and peer-to-peer communications. Also, following Apple's lead, third parties had developed a number of robust Mac-to-SNA products. Now, with APPN software in hand, Apple can become a star player in IBM's evolving SNA gameplan.

Meanwhile, with price reductions of up to a third last February, Apple has made its Macintosh an even more attractive SNA workstation, as well as a cost-effective client for client-server applications.

IBM's AS/400 midrange system, cornerstone of its Systems Applications Architecture (SAA), is already being touted as the "ideal server" for the Mac, so Mac-to-AS/400 connection could become a home run for both firms.

At the same time, AppleTalk is being supported in a growing number of multiprotocol routers and its becoming the preferred choice for Mac-to-VAX internetworking. Digital also sells Appletalk for VMS to make a VAX an AppleTalk router. Other results of the Digital-Apple alliance include an AppleTalk/DECnet Transport Gateway and local area transport for the Mac, which lets Apple users access Digital terminal services.

To complement IBM's SAA and Digital's Network Applications Support, Apple developed its own architectural approach, known as VITAL (for Virtually Integrated Technical Architecture Lifecycle). VITAL provides a blueprint for integrating incompatible systems and applications and for incorporating the power of desktop technology into enterprise systems.

Reflecting its philosophy of making life easier and better for the people who create and consume information, Apple calls its approach "user-centered enterprise computing."

Apple is clearly serious about its future as a major league player in enterprise computing. CEO John Sculley declares that the firm's future lies in networking and communications.

"Most people think of the Macintosh as easy to use," he says, and now he wants people to think of it as easy to connect and easy to get to collaborate with other network resources.

With three-tiered support for open systems and IBM/Digital connectivity, Apple seems to have already taken quite a bite out of that challenge.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Network Management; Apple in corporate computing
Author:Edwards, Morris
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:Column
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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Next Article:Plan for the expected, prepare for the unexpected.

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