Enterprise systems, software and strategies for integrators and outsourcersSun revamps strategy for enterprise computingby Matthew Nelson and David PenderySAN MATEO - Sun Microsystems is entering the final stages in the development of a new enterprise computing architecture that promises to fundamentally change the way the company brings its products and services to market.

At the core of this effort is the next release of its Solaris operating system by the end of 1998, a plan to develop more sophisticated clustering technology, and a new development effort to build a management console tool that spans all of its server software offerings.

Sun is tuning the Solaris operating system for ISPs and network administrators utilising Internet protocols, architecture, and services.

Due by the end of next quarter, Sun officials said the release will include new functionality including host configuration and replication services, a browser-based control console, performance monitoring, hardened security mechanisms, Java servlet support, and other specialised ISP services.

Sun is also working to integrate the same type of directory technology into Solaris that Microsoft plans to deliver in Windows NT 5.0 in 1999.

John McFarlane, US-based president of Solaris software at Sun, said Solaris for ISPs is one of a host of Solaris developments currently occurring, including enhanced Solaris direct-ory services, the final stages of 64-bit Solaris development, a specialised Solaris for intranets, and improved cluster technology to be integrated into Solaris.

Once Sun's enterprise computing architecture is in place, Sun plans to take a more solutions-based approach to marketing, in contrast to the modular approach it currently takes by selling individual server software packages.

Sun's approach will be driven by the knowledge gained from its own extranet, The extranet lets users, both inside and outside of the company, access corporate data after being authenticated and authorised for specific applications.

Sun is also beefing up its Australian part- ner group with the appointment of two senior managers.

Mike Wilson is Sun's new national partner group manager, while John Roker recently joined as national reseller manager.

SGI upgrades Irix operating system

by Jaikumar Vijayan and Naomi Jackson

SYDNEY - Silicon Graphics Inc (SGI) is bolstering its Irix operating system with new features designed to give users increased application scalability, manageability and better integration with Windows NT.

The moves are part of SGI's bid to regain some of the momentum it has lost over the past few quarters, but one business partner fears the attempts may be in vain.

Manufacturing problems, delayed product shipments, a costly acquisition of Cray Research and pressure from low-cost Windows NT workstations have had the once high-flying company suffering through one bad quarter after another. In its first major operating system overhaul in nearly two years, SGI is releasing Irix 6.5, a Unix variant that supports up to 128 processors.

It also features bundled management software such as Computer Associates' Unicenter and Unix/NT integration software from companies such as Hummingbird.

"All of these issues are important to us, especially the last two," Mark Glassick, Mincom's manager, marketing and sales for IT services told Australian Reseller News. "Tight integration to NT is important because it is a strategic direction that most companies are taking and bundled management tools is an area in the enterprise arena where SGI has been sadly lacking.

"This will enable them to compete more with Hewlett-Packard and Digital," said Glassick.

But Glassick is not confident the upgrade will resurrect SGI's flagging fortunes. "It has a lot more to do with fixing up an image than producing a good product," he said.

Scalability to 128 processors is crucial mainly for huge compute-intensive scientific and technical applications such as computational fluid dynamics and molecular modelling.

In Australia, Glassick said it may also be useful for niche graphics technology used in the mining and petroleum industries.

Oracle readies Rdb database for Windows NTRdb, the legacy database Oracle acquired from Digital, will be available on Windows NT by the end of the year, according to Oracle officials.

Rdb8/NT, which is already in beta release, will offer management and configuration utilities that users have become accustomed to on their Digital OpenVMS systems, one Oracle official said.

Rdb8/NT will feature enhancements such as record cache, vertical record partitioning, and hot standby.

The capability to run across clustered servers will be added in a subsequent release.

Rdb applications can be developed with Oracle development tools such as Developer/ 2000 and Designer/2000.

IBM to roll out CICS upgrade

IBM will roll out the beta version of its CICS/390 3.1 transaction-processing software in September. Slated to ship early next year, the upgrade will offer Java support, including the capability to write server applications in Java and support for native Java compiler technology on S/390 mainframes.

Enterprise JavaBeans component support is expected in the second half of 1999. The upgrade will include parallel sysplex support, company officials said.

Manugistics adds to supply-chain suite

Manugistics hopes to beef up its industry-specific offerings with its latest release and a company acquisition. Release 5.4 of Manugistics' flagship supply-chain suite includes new sales and design configuration functions contributed by ProMira Software, which Manugistics bought in February.

Ardent to beef up meta data software

Ardent Software is buying Dovetail Software, a small developer of meta data translation software in the US.

Ardent officials said Dovetail's Dialogue MetaBroker technology will be integrated into a data warehouse management suite that is due out in the second half of the year. The suite will also include Ardent's DataStage tool for extracting data from production systems, plus new software for scheduling and monitoring data loading and other warehousing procedures.

Dovetail's product translates between proprietary meta data formats used by different tools that map information and help users navigate through decision-support data.

Microsoft to give SQL Server more grunt

by Carolyn Gruske

TORONTO - Microsoft is aiming to address concerns about the scalability of its SQL Server database in the upcoming version 7.0 release, expected in the fourth quarter.

"Right now SQL Server is being used to build datamarts or data warehouses that range up to 100GB," said Steve Murchie, Microsoft's data warehousing product manager. "With SQL server 7.0, we're targeting the terabyte range."

Microsoft is also putting a strong emphasis on its Repository strategy.

The key to that will be to collect all metadata in a central place. And while Microsoft has proposed its own standard, Murchie said that doesn't mean it's proprietary.

"The whole model allows for extensibility. There is an extension for SQL Server, an extension for Oracle, an extension for Sybase, and so on. The whole object model is there to accommodate specialisations," he said.

According to Murchie, a big part of Microsoft's data warehousing strategy focuses on improvements SQL Server 7.0 will contain.

"Medium-sized businesses are being kept out of the data warehousing game today," he said. "We see SQL Server 7.0 delivering an environment where they can build their first data warehouse. Now it may only be a place to start - they may decide later that they need more tools or a bigger warehouse, but it is a start."

Murchie said the changes in SQL Server 7.0 will make a difference to companies lacking in data warehousing expertise or experience.

"We've spent a lot of time trying to make it more approachable," Murchie said. "We've made some simplifying assumptions and included a number of wizards, so for example, if you've already designed a star schema you can build a cube using a few simple wizards. Most companies are able to build their first in under 30 minutes."

IBM boosts support for ESPs

by Ted Smalley Bowen

SYDNEY - As more organisations move from intranet pilot projects to large-scale production applications based on Web server infrastructures, the same performance and management issues facing ISPs are looming large for enterprises.

This trend is giving rise to the so-called enterprise service provider, or ESP.

IBM aims to address the bandwidth, performance-tuning and load-balancing requirements of this market with the release of its WebSphere Performance.

IBM this month begins shipments of the WebSphere Performance Pack, which comprises the IBM Web Traffic Express caching proxy server; an eNetwork Dispatcher server for IP load-balancing and traffic management; and the AFS enterprise file system from IBM's Transarc subsidiary.

Available first on AIX and Sun Solaris platforms, with a Windows NT version to follow, the bundle is priced at $15,590 per server.

The WebSphere Performance Pack, which works with HTTP servers, includes rules-based routing of IP packets based on URL content, application monitoring for load-balancing and SNMP event logging, according to IBM officials.

IBM's Interactive Financial Services hits Asia-Pacificby Grace LooHONG KONG - IBM has quietly implemented a pilot project in Hong Kong as part of an initiative to bring its Interactive Financial Services (IFS) offering to the Asia-Pacific region.

IFS, a platform based on the IBM Global Network and the GOLD messaging standard, acts like a clearing house for messages between disparate com-puter systems within financial institutions, as well as users' access devices such as PCs.

IBM plans to introduce IFS, which will be double-byte enabled by March 1999, to eight Asia-Pacific countries by the beginning of next year.

Intentia plans full Java ERP suite

STOCKHOLM - Swedish enterprise resource planning (ERP) house Intentia is planning to be among the first ERP vendors to offer a full Java version of its application suite.

Intentia's aim is to make its Movex suite platform neutral by introducing a full Java version by the end of the first quarter of 1999.

Previously available only on the AS/400 platform, officials said the first Java version of Movex will also be able to run on Windows NT.

A Unix version will follow at a later stage. by Laura MasonUsers not radiant about pending R/3 upgradeby Craig StedmanFRAMINGHAM - SAP's upcoming data warehousing software has been tested by only 20 R/3 users so far, and even they are waiting for a first look at some key pieces of the product.

But that isn't stopping other users of SAP's applications from counting on the warehousing software to be the answer to their vexing R/3 data analysis problems.

For example, Japan-based Brother Industries has to collect data from multiple R/3 installations and manually load it into spreadsheets that are sent via e-mail to analysis-minded executives.

According to Sam Cox, chief information officer at Brother's US unit, this is a time-chomping process that can break down if employees worldwide don't do their part in preparing the data.

"Right now, we're hosed," he said. "This is literally going to be our saviour."

If it works as promised, SAP's Business Information Warehouse should automatically consolidate Brother's financial and manufacturing data for reporting and analysis, Cox said.

The maker of fax machines, printers, type- writers and sewing machines expects to install the new software early next year as it upgrades to R/3 4.0.

Business Information Warehouse combines a relational data analysis server with end-user query and reporting software, built-in data extraction routines and other tools. It is due for release to about 70 early users late this month, and general shipments are planned for August.

But not all users are sold on the idea. Andy Hafer, technology chief at Hydro Agri North America in the US, said he has all but ruled out using Business Information Warehouse for the company's reporting needs because of its newness "and some suspicions we have about it".

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