Printed on 31-05-2013 16:12:12
Publisher Arnoldo Mondadori – Mondadori’s Company Archive
Magazine…. Pc Week
Publication Date…. 11/26/1987
Publication Number…. 0006
Page Number…. 0012
Section…. COLUMNS
Subheading…. The Invitation
Author …. Roberto Mazzoni
Topics…. Computer
Type…. Interview
Location…. Europe Italy Area-Nato
Subjects …. Interview with Roberto Lorini
Subjects …. Italian Honeywell Bull
Creation Date…. 02/09/1988



about the problems of integration between systems: Universal interconnection

Main Article Text

DSCF7720 copia Roberto Lorini is the Networks and systems business unit director of the integrated offices of Honeywell-Bull Italy that deals with the problems of integration between systems originating from the end of the seventies. At that time, Honeywell began to define their own Dsa network architecture, according to the dictates of the first International Standard Organization (ISO). Since then, the company has followed all steps of the so-called evolutionary Open System Interconnect (OSI) model for integrating network-level equipment from different vendors. Today, Honeywell is one of the four leading Italian providers of Osi systems that the CNR has selected for conducting experiments in connectivity at the national level, along with IBM, Olivetti, and Digital Equipment. In fact, even Italy is following the policy adopted by many other European countries in support of the OSI standard, chosen as an alternative architecture for the interconnection of individual manufacturers.

What motivates recipients to request a universal system of communication?

The corporate information structures are profoundly changing with the spread of low cost departmental machines. The integration issues involving personal computers and mainframes are better resolved, if it is a mini that acts as a filter between the two and if the communication architecture and protocols are held in common. In addition, the user must be able to access the information needed to make decisions, without having to worry about finding out where this information is located. In truth, these are some of the requirements that have been noted in the passing of time and acquisition of experience.

How did Honeywell respond to these requirements?

Today, manufacturers recognize that an open communications system is a key factor necessary for achieving increased quality in information management since this resource is now considered strategic by users. Honeywell has developed and is offering to companies friendly tools used on user interfaces, such as icons or menus, easily helping them select the desired information. In addition, we also have worked to build a new professional presence, one who could act as a filter between the traditional edp and the actual working department: a user that has evolved so as to be able to administer the resources of the mini or the local network connected to it, simplifying the work of researching that his colleagues would have had to do. This organizational concept has already been tried with success internally in our company. We have also been lucky, having started after the others, in establishing the definition of our Dsa network architecture; as a result, we used the OSI model as a reference, and today we just marginally have to adapt our products, so that they are fully standards-compliant.

Are there actual applications for your system ready for universal interconnection?

One of the many is that of Credito Italiano, where minicomputers from another vendor interface, in Osi dialect through our network processor. It is not just simple x25 connections (the standard that defines the lower levels of the OSI model), but the communication is one that conforms to all five existing Osi levels. During the last year, we worked on several e-mail products for large and small systems that are compatible with the X.400 standard, defining on the seventh level of the OSI model e-mail functionality. In the beginning of 1988, there will be prototype available of these software packages, and at that point there will be the real possibility of sending electronic messages from one company to another, or from one nation to another, regardless of which type or brand of computer the recipient has installed.

What role do you think the personal computer will play in this scenario?

By 1988, we would like to make available, a personal computer that will incorporate internally hardware and software necessary to communicate with any other computer, without resorting to emulators or the need for a gateway. This personal computer will have the same communication skills of a mini and the user will discover hitherto unexplored integration horizons.
Let’s go back to the general theme.

Are manufacturers are being directed, by political factors,to the unification of standards?

Certainly: Many European countries have instituted deregulation policies in the area of telecommunications. Italy will also follow this path.

Do you think that all of the leading manufacturers will deliver on the promises of accession to Osi?

Last November, the CNR conference, was held regarding the Osiris Project, where the majority of the conference was pretty much about Ico Osi. Many companies, including IBM, have officially declared that they will follow the Open system interconnect. This, in my opinion, does not mean that IBM intends to abandon the Sna, but it shows that even IBM has understood that Osi has become the “Esperanto” of communication between systems.
How is it that some manufacturers have chosen not to join the Iso model from the very start?

Most of the leading manufacturers of mini and mainframe computers, had already developed their own interconnection technologies between 1974 and 1975 in anticipation of the Iso activities in the following years; And some of these network architects were hoping to establish their architectural system as the de facto standard in the market. The OSI model only began to take shape in 1979; however it was not yet a full standard, but only a frame of reference. It was not until 1984 – 85 that Iso was able to churn out the first reference drafts applying to the lowest interconnection levels. The working definitions of Osi, amongst other factors, are not finished yet, and will take time to be fully completed at the application level.

Roberto Mazzoni