The Future of IPSANET

David Chivers, Manager of ipsanet Development, London



IPSANET, I. P. Sharp's communications network, is undergoing major hardware and software enhancements to better serve business needs of today and tomorrow. Net 90, the network development project begun almost two years ago, will transform IPSANET into a state-of-the-art wide area network for data and text services.

Originally, IPSANET ‘s only function was to provide worldwide access to SHARP APL services, which it continues to do reliably, securely and efficiently. Our primary future aim is to continue this role, through the use of modem communications technology to serve your current needs and ours.

Because of IPSANET ‘s success, many clients have sought to use the network to solve other data communications problems outside the SHARP APL environment. This use has been limited by the existing network technology. The Net 90 project will increase the possibilities for interconnection between IPSANET and other networks and computer systems. A modem network must interface easily and efficiently with computers from many different manufacturers, intelligent workstations, local area networks (LAN), distributed processing systems, other networks and data suppliers.

Strategy for the 1990s

We intend to progress in a realistic and cost-effective way by enhancing, not replacing, the fully-operational network we have today. This strategy will allow many of the benefits to be available throughout the network before the whole of the installed equipment is replaced.

We will not offer all possible services: being too general would cause us to lose the reliability, efficiency and speed of IPSANET. Since the value and time-sensitivity of data carried by IPSANET has increased considerably, these issues are more important than ever.

The link between IPSANET and other I. P. Sharp software will continue to be very close, and we will exploit that close link to benefit users.

We will implement standard interfaces to the outside world with preference to SNA and OSI standards. But we will also have the capability of implementing special interfaces for individual needs.

IPSANET users will see the benefits of Net 90 over several years. The development schedule will be influenced by growth pressures, client needs, and specific external funding.

Net 90 is an important development for I. P. Sharp Associates. It is not a replacement for IPSANET, but it represents the addition of powerful new switching engines to provide an upwardly compatible growth path for the next decade. Net 90 is intended to reduce our costs of supplying IPSANET service, which can only in the long term benefit our users.

IPSANET will certainly continue to offer services which are closely linked with I. P. Sharp mainframe software. However, Net 90 will introduce other services to IPSANET which will meet more general needs and make more cost-effective use of transmission lines.

Finally, Net 90 does not attempt to predetermine now what will be needed in three or five years time. The flexibility gained by the new node configuration of linking microprocessors through a LAN allows IPSANET to continue to adapt to changing needs as they occur.

In the future, IPSANET will be able to connect users and applications, wherever they are, with one single communications link and one communications network. IPSANET will provide easy and efficient connections between users and electronic mail, users and applications, users and data sources, and between applications.