I.P. SHARP ASSOCIATES
IPSANET, I.P. Sharp's international communications network, is undergoing major enhancements to better serve the business needs of today and tomorrow. In April of 1985, we began a development project called Net 90, which will elevate IPSANET to a truly state-of-the-art wide area network for data and text services.
IPSANET's initial function was to provide global access to the I.P. Sharp Online Service, and to other mainframe systems running IPSA software. This it still does — with local access in more than 800 cities worldwide — reliably, securely, and efficiently.
That early network has been much upgraded and expanded already. IPSANET now offers multiple routing, with automatic selection of the best available route. Calls interrupted by a network fault are re-established if there is no possibility of data loss. Terminal connection speeds have increased. IPSANET supports flow control, echoplex, bulk input, and several complex interconnection protocols.
The Future Of IPSANET Now
We intend to further enhance the capabilities of IPSANET. Our new development direction will not sacrifice any of the reliability or efficiency features for which IPSANET is famous — we realize that the value and time-sensitivity of data is on the increase, and we will keep on delivering it quickly and securely. And we'll certainly continue to offer services which are closely linked with IPSA mainframe software, but will also develop other capacities to meet more general needs and make more cost-effective use of the communications lines.
The Net 90 project will expand the ability of IPSANET to connect with computers from many different manufacturers, intelligent workstations, local area networks, distributed processing systems, other networks, and data suppliers. And it will all be done without any disruption of your present use of IPSANET; changes will be phased in alongside the existing network.
"Simply put, it’s IPSANET for the 1990's..."
What Is Net 90?
Simply put, it's IPSANET for the 1990's. The intelligence of IPSANET now lies in the software running in our several hundred network node minicomputers and communications controllers. The Net 90 node incorporates new hardware and software design, and will work along with the existing nodes. The new nodes will handle line speeds several times faster than the present limit, and result in more efficient data transmission. They will enable improved X.25 host gateway connections, extend binary synchronous communications capabilities, and support more and more varied services.
Interconnection between IPSANET and IBM mainframes will be possible under ibm's SNA environment. Connection to other networks and to local area networks (LANs) will be effected through the emerging Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) standards. Net 90 will also allow for a greater variety of operating modes and communication protocols at
the user terminal connection, including more cost-effective and flexible connection of 3270 terminals to IPSANET. And IPSANET will increasingly carry traffic which is not dependent on IPSA mainframe software.
The Net 90 Nodes
The new node is based on a complex of similar processors, each concentrating on a part of the node's function. Clusters of these microprocessors, interconnected at the same site by the new IBM token-ring LAN, will start to be phased into the network during 1987. There will be two new node processors, the first based on an IBM PC/AT, the other consisting of specialized hardware.
Each AT will accommodate up to five communications coprocessors, each with two high-speed communications ports, giving a total of 10 ports per AT. As many as sixteen of these subnodes can then be connected by a LAN, allowing 160 communications lines per node. The coprocessor cards used in the AT have been specially designed and built for IPSA, and will handle line speeds of up to 64 kilobits per second.
The second generation node, a rack-mounted card cage, will again be designed and built to our specifications. The same microprocessors will be used, but without the PC/AT packaging. This design is intended for the larger nodes in the network, and will meet higher performance standards at a lower cost per port, connecting between 2 and 40 communications lines.
All nodes will have local disk storage which will save copies of the node software. New versions of software will be loaded through the network to the local disk while the node continues its normal operation. Eventually the disk may also be used for storage of user data, for such applications as a wire broadcast service.
The layered design of the new nodes was chosen to maximize efficiency and versatility. More power can be added to the specific nodes which need it, when they need it, simply by adding more processors. Extra nodes can be linked into the network at any location, to provide dedicated, specialized services, or purely to support heavy usage. IPSANET becomes infinitely expandable!
This design also enhances the reliability of the nodes, since a faulty unit on the LAN can be repaired or replaced without affecting the operation of the rest of the node.
Future development plans for the new nodes are very wide in scope. The large memory available in each processor and the ability to add further
specialized processors will enable more sophisticated processing to be done at each node. The direction of this development will be guided by market demand, and may change as circumstances change. But some potential applications include:
• Connecting to non-SHARP APL systems. By rewriting network functions so that they are not dependent on SHARP APL, IPSA will be able to provide network services to link distributed computer systems such as DEC, IBM S/36, Wang, and Tandem.
• Further expanding asynchronous
communications to handle more terminal types (including 3270 terminal emulation), and communications with various remote systems.
• Distributing data similar to a newswire service, which would either broadcast the same data to many clients or exploit the local disk storage at each node to hold pages of data accessible on demand.
• Moving the network management of IPSANET from IPSA mainframe products to smaller, possibly distributed microcomputer systems. This would allow us to provide IPSANET hardware and software as a standalone package to companies who want to run their own private networks.
• Developing software in high level, compiled languages, so that portability to new hardware in the future maximizes the quick use of the best hardware, all the while protecting the software investment.
Watch IPSANET Grow!
Net 90 is not a replacement for IPSANET - it is the addition of powerful new "switching engines" to provide an upwardly compatible growth path for the next decade. The choice of LAN-based, linked-processor design gives us the flexibility to adapt to changing needs as they occur. That means your changing needs.
And the fact that we will provide standard interfaces to the world's most popular standard protocols doesn't mean that we won't offer specialized interfaces for individual requirements — as always, we are in business for you.
For information on IPSANET or other IPSA products, please contact your local IPSA representative, or one of these offices.
I.P. Sharp Associates Limited Suite 1900, 2 First Canadian Place Toronto, Ontario M5X 1E3 416-364-5361
I.P. Sharp Associates Inc. 1200 First Federal Plaza Rochester, New York 14614 716-546-7270
I.P. Sharp Associates Limited
10 Dean Farrar Street
London SW1H ODX
Far East Headquarters
I.P. Sharp Associates Limited SIA Building No. 14-00 77 Robinson Road Singapore 0106 Republic of Singapore 2230211
I.P. Sharp Associates Pty. Limited
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