“IBM has been promising this capability for two years,” says David Passmore, staff consultant with Network Strategies Inc. Burke. Va. He adds that the Defense Department has also pushed IBM to come out with the new capability so that various regional DOD networks could be attached together through a long-haul common transport network.
The interconnection does not require that different SNA nets have common operating characteristics, says IBM. Support for interconnection is offered under the MVS and MVS-XA operating systems and requires such software as ACF/VTAM Rel. 2.2; ACF/NCP Rel. 3; ACF/SSP Rel. 2.2; NCCF Rel. 2 and Network Logical Data Manager Rel. 2, the company says.
One open question in the late November product introduction was that of security. No mention of security measures was made in the IBM literature and IBM did not respond to inquiries by press time. Observers said it was surprising that IBM did not emphasize the security of its network facilities, particularly when it was suggesting that different companies link their networks together. Moreover, the lack of security data stood out in the light of recent publicity given to unauthorized access into private networks by schoolchildren.
Generally, however, the announcement was taken as notice of IBM’s increased interest in networking, an interest that has piqued a great deal of curiosity from observers who scrutinized the firm’s recent displays of a so-called “experimental” token passing ring local network at a Geneva trade show. The industry has long awaited IBM’s entry into the local network arena ever since 1980 when Xerox, Intel, and DEC joined forces to bring Ethernet to market.
“The question remains, will the IBM local network be a separate SNA network or will it be merely a multipoint line node in a larger SNA net?” asked Passmore.
One observer took the SNA interconnection announcement as more evidence of an alleged general strategy by IBM to confuse the user so much in the telecommunications area that he will have to take cues from IBM.
“It’s a deliberate fostering of complexity to gain control of the network,” states Kenneth Bosomworth, chief executive of International Resource Development, a Norwalk, Conn., market research firm. “The user of SNA is confronted with an increasingly complex set of options in designing large-scale networks. It will be mind-boggling in two years.”
Bosomworth says IBM is trying to distract the user away from the network by having him concentrate on workstations and the mainframe. “It’s making life so difficult for the user that he must let IBM do the work for him. IBM wants very much to get back in the driver’s seat.”
Bosomworth thinks the company got bumped from that seat by plug-compatible terminal suppliers, minicomputer vendors, and others who have eaten a large chunk away from IBM’s 3270 terminal base. “SNA is very high on IBM’s priority list, particularly in large corporations where P.C.s are being attached into mainframes,” he adds.