While not mainstream, IBM's OS/2 operating system highlights the direction being taken in network computing.
IBM has embraced the concept of the network as the computer with its OS/2 Warp Server. From small business workgroups to the Internet, IBM said the Warp Server provides stable network operation, file and printer sharing and comprehensive application serving capabilities.
International researcher IDC has identified a significant trend in which the network software market is moving from low-end connectivity to high-end groupware enablement.
IDC noted that in 1993, file and print serving accounted for 56 per cent of the network operating market, compared with 44 per cent for application serving.
However the research company predicts that by 1999, file and print serving will shrink to 41 per cent, while application serving will grow to 59 per cent.
Underlining this trend is the move by organisations from ad hoc proliferation of personal computer technology. This resulted in "islands of information". The move is to an integrated information systems infrastructure through the deployment of client-server and network-centric network implementations.
IBM Australia's segment manager for desktop software, Nick Aronson, said Warp Server outperformed competing products in three areas: performance, flexibility, and "universality".
"In independent tests, Warp Server outperforms Windows NT in file and print serving by 26 per cent where NT was running on four processors and Warp Server was running on one," he said.
Aronson said that as well as being a file and print server, Warp Server is also an application server and has the ability to operate as a global directory server.
"The third major benefit is its universality. OS/2 Warp Server can run virtually any client, including Windows 3.1 or 95, OS/2, a NetWare client or Macintosh," Aronson said.
He said Warp Server also provides interoperability with a broad range of computer systems, including backup and recovery services to minicomputers and mainframes from vendors including IBM, Sun, Hewlett-Packard and Digital.
IBM said extensive cross-platform management is available through Warp Server's Systems Management Services, while transparent access to a variety of enterprise printers is available through advanced print capabilities.