Roland Bryan (bryan@ACC-SB-UNIX.ARPA)
Thu, 5 Mar 87 09:44:32 PST

The confusion and indecision that is prevalent among those in
government that write network specifications and RFQ's has come
about over the last several years, first by all of the different
companies and types of products that were offered, and now by the
much touted new protocols.

They are not aware that there are "standard" protocols in use now,
in networks already in operation. Moreover they are not aware that
the new ISO protocols have not been completed, and will not be ready
for some time.

ACC is a believer in ISO and has now spent significant resource on
developing products for use in networks employing the new protocols.
The customers are reluctant, and rightly so since there are few
suppliers of similar products today.

It is interesting to find out that network planners in Europe have
grown tired of waiting for the release of software modeled on ISO
and have begun to specify use of TCP/IP in commercial systems.

If the government planners and spec writers embrace GOSIP as the
rule today and not as a guideline for future improvements, we will
be waiting a long time for network growth. Most of the press and
the articles that are read by these planners talk as though ISO
exists and is ready "off the shelf".

>From the report below, it is clearly evident that GOSIP may soon be
interpreted as a directive, by those ignorant of technical reality.

>From COMPUTERWORLD 12 January, 1987, By Mitch Betts

Feds Back OSI Standards

Gaithersburg, MD - The U.S. Government, a user organization with a
$16 billion information systems budget, is throwing its weight behind
the Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) standards with a new contracting
document that will require vendors to supply off-the-shelf networking
systems that meet certain OSI standards.

Federal agencies may now incorporate the Government OSI Procurement
(GOSIP) specification in bid requests at their discretion, but
eventually GOSIP will be a mandatory part of government contracts,
according to Shirley M. Radack, coordinator of standards programs
at the National Bureau of Standards institute for Computer Sciences
and Technology.

In addition to saving money and headaches by buying open systems, the
government hopes to use its own clout to prod vendors into developing
standard OSI products.

OSI is the seven layer reference model for communications standards
that has previously been established by the International Standards


According to the U.S. Government OSI Users Committee, GOSIP is
compatible with the industry's Manufacturing Automation Protocol
(MAP) and Technical Office Protocol (TOP) and will be updated as
new OSI protocols are developed and approved.

For starters, the government is adopting the File Transfer and Access
Management (FTAM) standard for file transfer and the Message
Handling Systems (X.400) standard for electronic mail as well as
X.25 for wide-area networking and the Token Bus (IEEE 802.4) for
local-area networking.

"GOSIP addresses the need of the federal government to move
immediately to multivendor interconnectivity without sacrificing
essential functionality already implemented in critical networking
systems," the GOSIP document said. It noted that the capabilities
required by GOSIP "exist as standard products or are close enough
to market that they can be proposed by vendors."

In 1988 the government expects to adopt standards for document
interchange, transaction processing and the token-ring local-area
network, Standards for graphics, the exchange of financial and
management data, videotext and data base updates are slated for 1989.
An Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) standard for voice,
data and video traffic is expected in 1990.

The Dec.18 version of GOSIP is intended for use in procurements
of new networks of mainframes and minicomputers through September
1989. The National Bureau of Standards plans to adopt it as a
Federal Information Processing Standard later this year, and the
General Services Administration plans to incorporate it into
mandatory procurement rules, Radack said.

"In the past, vendor-specific implementations of data communications
protocols led to isolated domains of information, very difficult
and expensive to bridge," the GOSIP document explained. "By
implementing open systems, the government expects to realize
significant savings through reducing duplicate circuits and
wiring, training, custom software, workstations and custom
hardware interfaces."

However, some observers said the government faces a big challenge
in standardizing on OSI, given the fact that many existing networks
depend on the Pentagon-developed Transmission Control
Protocol/Internet Protocol and IBM's Systems Network Architecture.


Roland Bryan

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