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NetWorld: multi-vendor answers.

Networld: Multi-Vendor Answers Visitors at Networld '90 were swamped with integrated multi-vendor solutions, a refreshing contrast to the single-solution situation they see so often at trade shows.

The trend toward multi-vendor exhibits reflects the maturity of the local area networking market.

A total of 30,163 attendees browsed among the 425 exhibit booths at the Dallas Convention Center.

ShowNet, a 400-node network in the convention center, linked about 100 vendors, combining seamless connectivity throughout the exhibit area booths while offering a variety of services, such as electronic mail, to attendees through walk-up kiosks.

The network fit the interoperability focus of Networld, with real-time interconnection among OS/2, DOS, and Unix; LAN Manager and NetWare; Ethernet, token ring, and FDDI. It also tracked attendees' requests for information, making requests available to exhibitors for post-show follow-up.

Users can save money and maintain tight controls by establishing corporate LAN standards, but must be careful so the standards don't lock them uncomfortably into one product or vendor, said Rick Segal of Aetna Life Insurance, a seminar speaker.

"If you are trying to sell insurance, you don't want to be a computer company," said Segal. That's where standards come in handy, easing the manager's burden of juggling all those vendors' products.

Bobby Stroud of Holiday Inns warned users not to draw up LAN standards before they know the problem they want to solve. In his case, he said, Holiday Inn changed from dumb terminals to personal computers, hoping to reduce hardware maintenance costs and expand the applications available from terminals.

PIHI was a new acronym tossed out by Dave Dalessandro of Unocal, in a wide area networks seminar. It means Protocol Independent Heterogeneous Interoperability, something he insists on.

Dalessandro said WANs once existed only to connect LANs, but now incorporate other connectivity. He warned eager network managers not to let voluminous network management data become the primary data moving on the network.

Texas Instruments and Proteon say a breakthrough permits large-scale, IBM-compatible 16 Mb/s token ring networks over unshielded twisted pair.

JitterBuster lets users build 4 or 16 Mb/s UTP networks up to the 250-node count specified by the 802.5 standard. Previously, such networks were limited to 100 nodes per ring because of UTP sensitivity to noise-induced jitter, or signal distortion.

North Hills announced new two- and four-port compact token ring MAUs (multi-station access units). They support 4 or 16 Mb/s data rates and offer flexible expansion or reconfiguration of networks.

Wireless LANs

Two companies unveiled wireless spread spectrum LAN systems.

NCR says its wireless LAN is nine times faster than previous systems.

While other companies offer wireless LANs, using radio or infrared light, they have been slow compared to NCR's WaveLAN. At $1400, it is expensive and slow compared to cabled LANs, but cheaper and faster than other wireless offerings.

It links computers in an 800-foot radius at 2 Mb/s. NCR suggests it where cabling is a problem or for temporary LANs, such as those used by auditors or retailers at sidewalk sales. Telesystems' new Advanced Radio LAN, Arlan, comes in two versions, the 100 for multi-user applications with RS-232C async interface devices and the 400, which supports multiple RS-232C circuits at up to 19.2 kb/s each via a 200 kb/s packet-switched radio channel.

Links are set up between remote, single-port network units and a multiport central network controller, typically connected to a host or other resource.

Arlan 400 uses a 230 kb/s packet-switched radio channel, and its cards install directly in the workstation.

For more on wireless networks, see page 12.

AT&T announced new networking and systems management products to run multi-vendor distributed systems.

It also introduced a new release of StarGroup LAN manager server network operating system, plus a systems manager running on UNIX System V.

StarGroup is a graphic front-end manager which handles systems, routers, SNMP (simple network management protocol) devices and networks.

The new release, which incorporates Microsoft LAN Manager technology, provides improved performance and support for 16 Mb/s token ring hardware. MS-DOS, OS/2, UNIX and Macintosh users can share files and printers transparently.

AT&T also offers a new StarWAN 10:4 bridge, a StarLAN 10 Network EISA Network Access Unit, and general purpose synchronous controllers (GPSC) which provide low-cost synchronous communications from AT-and EISA-bus computers to SNA hosts or X.25 networks.

Cabletron gave a peek at its Inductive Modeling Technology (IMT). Reasoning-capable IMT provides a way to model and control complex entities with software. Cabletron is following up the announcement with a network management product that it says will let developers build extremely adaptive systems.

Codenoll Technology and the Packard Electric Division of General Motors announced advances in use of plastic optical fiber for LANs.

A plastic LAN on display at the show ran Ethernet.

Plastic fiber can run 100 to 300 Mb/s and is less expensive and easier to install and work with than coaxial cable and twisted pair. It is practical for LANs, but not long distances because of its attenuation compared with glass fiber.

User Groups

NetWare Users International met in conjunction with the show, announcing a new operations committee to work closely with local user groups. Becky Campbell of Martin-Marietta chairs the committee.

The Multiuser DOS Federation (MDOS), formed in July, promotes growth and acceptance of MDOS solutions--making it possible for work-groups to run DOS applications from a shared 80286, 386 or 486 computer.

Unlike LANs, with PCs for each individual, MDOS users work at terminals or workstations and share one PC.

Next year's Dallas Networld Show is Oct. 15-17.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:NetWorld 90
Publication:Communications News
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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