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From Rochester to Redmond? Not on your life!

Analysis of News Events
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This issue of Client Access/400 Expert focuses on the expanding roles that Microsoft and TCP/IP are taking in midrange connectivity. The articles we’ve included are designed to stretch your understanding beyond the traditional AS/400 PC Support arena. Some of us may find these topics oddly controversial. Why is this?

For many AS/400 shops, the influx of Microsoft operating systems and software tools are an uncomfortable reminder that IBM lost the desktop wars. I regularly receive email from subscribers who tell me they will “never ever let Microsoft” into their installations. Microsoft products, in their opinion, are poorly made, highly hyped excuses for “real” (read OS/2) client/server tools.

By the same token, TCP/IP is an extremely controversial topic for some SNA installations. Understanding TCP/IP is—from their perspective—as useful as memorizing the Communist Manifesto; it simply doesn’t make any sense to change the current network architecture just because somebody says TCP/IP is better.

On the other hand, there are obviously many organizations that are embracing both Microsoft and TCP/IP. Fortunately, IBM is one of them. The announcement that IBM will make Windows NT operate on the IPCS, as well as the availability of the beta version of the Windows NT Client for Client Access/400 on the Web, are strong indications that even IBM is ready and willing to participate in the larger computing marketplace. This is an important shift away from the mindset that labeled Bill Gates “The Prince of Darkness” and toward a more realistic approach to business computing. It means that the AS/400 will be there in the years to come. It means that the frozen island nation of Rochester, Minnesota is finally starting to thaw.

A hard-won fight has been going on for years in Rochester. “Why would anyone,” the marketing department wanted to know, “write for the Microsoft platforms when OS/2 and AIX are out there?” Well, software engineers are no different than any other programmers. They want to write code that will be used and appreciated. OS/2 is great! AIX is exciting! But—for a while at least—Windows 95 and NT are where the action is. Creating code for Microsoft and for TCP/IP demonstrates the commitment that the Rochester software engineers have made to us, the users. They’re committed to bringing the AS/400 into the contemporary world of client/server computing. In fact, it’s the process of connecting the AS/400 to the entire spectrum of OS desktops that will keep the AS/400 alive and successful as an enterprise server.

With these thoughts in mind, we’re publishing a number of articles that should help you appreciate the transition Rochester is making. Mike Dawson’s article on prestart job entries shows how to make the AS/400’s ODBC driver perform better. It’s a technique that could make you more satisfied with ODBC. In a similar vein, I’ve written an article about printing to the desktop across TCP/IP. Since Client Access/400 currently provides no printer emulator for TCP/IP, I thought sooner or later one of your were going to need this article. (And sure enough, just as I was writing it, I received an email from someone wondering how to do it!) Also in this issue, Joe Hertvik walks us through Ethernet addressing scenarios, and we explore the Windows 95 and Windows NT file systems. We also have a dynamite article about the TCP/IP addressing scheme that—even though your shop may have real qualms about the Internet—may bridge a gap in your knowledge.

Meanwhile, what about all those IBM platform issues? OS/2? Notes? OfficeVision? Is CAE turning into one of those “me-too” Microsoft publicity rags? Not in the least! As the editorial calendar of each issue comes into focus, I’m looking for the best articles and ideas I can find to keep Client Access/400 Expert on track and up to date. I think you’ll find, as the year goes on, that reading articles from our Client Access experts is like having a finger on the pulse of the industry. If you have a question, or if there’s a topic you want to hear more about, send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We’re constantly scanning the newsgroups and the Web sites for CA/400 information, and if we don’t have the answer, we’ll find the person in Rochester—or even in Redmond—who does.

Thomas Stockwell

Thomas M. Stockwell is an independent IT analyst and writer. He is the former Editor in Chief of MC Press Online and Midrange Computing magazine and has over 20 years of experience as a programmer, systems engineer, IT director, industry analyst, author, speaker, consultant, and editor.  


Tom works from his home in the Napa Valley in California. He can be reached at ITincendiary.com.





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