Connectivity Market Gears up for NT-Unix Growth
Microsoft Corp.’s recent announcement of the Windows NT Services for UNIX Add-On Pack is expected to give the UNIX-to-Windows NT interoperability marketplace a shot in the arm. Seattle-based WRQ Inc. (www.wrq.com) aims to be among the first in line to benefit from growth in this market segment with version 7.0 of the company’s Reflection X product, a NT-UNIX interoperability package that gives Windows workstations access to information on UNIX systems.
Chris Rogers, a product marketing manager with WRQ, says that even with the recent Microsoft concessions to UNIX, there’s still plenty of room for improvement on both sides of the fence. "There are some significant gaps between both Microsoft and Sun [in terms of interoperability]," he says.
Rogers positions the new Reflection X 7.0 as a product that works with other interoperability solutions from WRQ -- such as the company’s just-released NFS Gateway -- to provide a one-stop solution for IT managers looking to provide Windows client access to UNIX or legacy hosts. "Our NFS Gateway product is a centrally managed method of providing file and print access to end users," Rogers points out.
Microsoft’s Windows NT Services for UNIX Add-On Pack, on the other hand, will ship with client-side support for the Access NFS Gateway from Intergraph Corp. (Huntsville, Ala., www.intergraph.com).
Rogers points out that WRQ’s Reflection X terminal emulation and host access product provides access to a greater variety of UNIX and IBM hosts than does Microsoft’s Windows NT Services for UNIX Add-On Pack. For example, while Microsoft’s forthcoming add-on pack will provide VT52 and VT100 connectivity to UNIX hosts, WRQ provides support for terminal emulation through VT 400. In addition, WRQ’s new Reflection product also provides host connectivity for Windows 3.11 clients, something that the Microsoft add-on pack isn’t expected to offer.
Reflection X 7.0 also features a new Reflection Deploy deployment technology, which leverages a Web-based software distribution schema. Users can configure Reflection Deploy technology to automatically install an application on a networked desktop when they first launch that application from a Web page. An IT manager must first install Reflection X on a server and then create a Web page that displays the Reflection X application icons, which point to the actual application on the server. An administrator can then share the URL with appropriate users. According to Rogers, the new Reflection Deploy technology can allow administrators to more easily configure client workstations for the variety of terminal emulation or host access that they require, without the problem of installing an entire access suite.
Reflection X 7.0 also features a new Reflection X Profiler that centralizes configuration of Reflection X and lets site administrators remotely configure and control user defaults. Administrators can use the Reflection X Profiler to lock down a particular configuration of Reflection X so that users cannot change settings.
Jeff Huang, a software project leader with ADAC Laboratories (Milpitas, Calif.), says that Reflection X 7.0 is tops in a crowded field that includes solutions from Hummingbird Technologies Ltd. (Ontario, www.hummingbird.com). ADAC manufactures Pegasus, a Sun Solaris-based solution that renders gamma camera images for physicians.
According to Huang, Reflection X permits ADAC to enable physicians and specialists to view gamma camera images from Windows-based PCs, rather than $100,000+ Pegasus workstations. "Reflection X is a tremendous value-add to our install base, because by being able to [leverage a product such as Reflection], physicians do not have to shell out another $100,000 just to be able to access Pegasus," Huang notes. "WRQ's product is very robust, it's very user friendly, and they have an incredible customer support team, so when we're doing the development we get immediate feedback."