VINES grows new functions, Y2K compliance

Banyan Systems Inc. this week is announcing a new version of its VINES network operating system that provides current users with a one-step upgrade to new features and Year 2000 compliance.

VINES 8.5 is the first in a series of Year 2000-compliant products expected from Banyan's Year 2000 Readiness Program, announced last December, said Shaun Hayes, the product line manager for enterprise networking at Banyan. "We have three elements of that program: product readiness, an awareness campaign and services to help users tackle the Year 2000 problem," Hayes said.

Key Year 2000 issues addressed in VINES 8.5 include user account expiration dates that can be set by the network administrator; service log report generation so that administrators can sort events in the correct order; upgrades of client software drivers to be Year 2000-compliant; and date-field expansion so that dates can be expanded to four digits.

Banyan also announced a Year 2000-compliant version of its Application Developer's Toolkit "so developers will be able to ensure applications are Year 2000-compliant," Hayes said.

Blending Old With New

While the VINES 8.5 release focuses exclusively on making the network operating system Year 2000-compliant, it also encompasses all the features found in VINES 8.0.

These include Lightweight Directory Access Protocol support for Banyan's Street-Talk directory service; the StreetTalk Explorer management tool to simplify network administration; remote client access through a World Wide Web browser; and enhanced server-to-server software to allow multiple VINES and StreetTalk for Windows NT servers to talk to each other via Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.

Current users of VINES 5.54 and above will be able to upgrade to Version 8.5 in one step, Hayes said. "What they will get is Year 2000 compliance but also new features implemented in later versions of VINES," he said. Users who subscribe to Banyan's Value Investment Protection Plan will receive VINES 8.5 for free. Users who join a new Rev-Up program will receive it for a 50 percent discount.

Banyan's products and services will be offered off the General Services Administration schedule held by Electronic Systems of Richmond, and off other contracts selling Banyan products, said Greg Edwards, manager of federal sales at Banyan.

Agencies with large VINES installations are realizing that it is an expensive undertaking to replace the network operating system and upgrade the necessary hardware to become Year 2000-compliant, Edwards said.

"It's a much tougher task than upgrading VINES servers to 8.5," he said. As a result, "some agency plans to go to Windows NT have changed. Instead, they plan to upgrade to VINES 8.5 and integrate NT via StreetTalk for Windows NT, which is Year 2000-compliant."

Through its latest announcements, Banyan is "sending a message to its customers that the company is still investing in the product line," said Neil MacDonald, a research director at Gartner Group. "It's building confidence in its installed base, especially with VINES 8.5, [which] tells users that Banyan is Year 2000-compliant."

Banyan has made it easier than most vendors to achieve Year 2000 compliance, said Tom Oleson, research director at International Data Corp. "Most vendors say, 'Here is the migration path, and here are the software patches that will make the software Year 2000-compliant,' " Oleson said. "Banyan has gone back and provided a migration path from other versions of VINES to 8.5."

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