Questions on TCP-IP (vs. DECNET)

Andrew Birner (Andrew-Birner%ZENITH.CP6%LADC@BCO-MULTICS.ARPA)
Tue, 12 Jul 88 12:05 PDT

 We are testing the waters of TCP-IP, before jumping in with both feet;
unfortunately, the water looks rather murky from here, and we'd like to learn
a bit more about the bottom conditions before taking the plunge. Our VAX
system manager, Mark Shumaker, has asked me to submit the following for
comments, suggestions, and/or flamage; e-mail replies may be directed to me at
the reply-to address for this message, which should be:


Please do not direct replies to the address shown as sending this message, as
there is a one-way pipe in the path (a regretable political necessity).


     {At the risk of starting another war....}

 We have a VAX-11/780, a VAX-8650, and a varying number of PC's and
 clones networked; DECnet has been our primary (and only) network
 product. Now we need access to some other environments: Prime
 2250/Primos (Ugh!), Honeywell DPS-66/CP-6 (Yay!), and possibly
 Mentor/UN*X (---!) systems. The common networking scheme for
 all these suckers is TCP/IP. Our (the Systems Manager's) intent
 has been to put together a subsidiary TCP/IP network which
 will allow transfer of files from the Prime, Honeywell, and Mentor
 to the 780 (our network control and file server node), with the PC
 and 8650 users then having DECnet access to the files. There are
 no current requirements for anything other than file transfer
 on this subsidiary network.

 One of our more vocal users is promoting the thesis that TCP/IP
 should be our primary (indeed, only) network product. I need to
 investigate this further. Can anyone help me with:

 1) I keep hearing horror or war stories about interoperability
    among different implementations of the TCP protocols, even
    with the basic FTP and TELNET. At the TCP/IP pre-symposium
    seminar at Anaheim '87, the speaker said that some user
    patching of TCP code would most probably be required in
    heterogeneous multi-vendor networks to assure interoperability
    (paraphrasing). Can anyone comment on this matter, particularly
    since in at least one of our environments, the vendor will
    not disclose source code?

 2) Does anyone know of a product (hardware, software, or both) that
    acts as a DECnet-to-TCP bridge? This looks like it should be a
    fairly simple thing to do, at least for the 'basic' protocols,
    but then I don't plan to do it myself so it *should* look easy...

 3) Can anyone put me into contact with the System Manager at a
    multi-vendor TCP/IP site (both hardware and software from dif-
    ferent sources, preferably including Prime, VAX, PC's, and at
    least one other) which is running satisfactorily and which did
    not have to do major modifications to the TCP code?

 4) We are using DECnet utilities for:

    a) File transfers from PC to PC, VAX to VAX, PC to VAX, VAX to PC.

    b) Virtual disk partitions on the VAX for the PC's for working
       storage, for archiving PC data, and for backups of PC data.

    c) SETHOST scripts imbedded in .BAT files in the PC's to allow
       the PC users to perform certain actions in the VMS environment
       without necessarily being aware that the process is not on the PC.

    d) Transparent File Access functions imbedded in C programs in the
       PC's for getting directories, files, and data from files on
       remote nodes (PC and VAX).

    e) In development are Transparent Task-to-Task applications that
       run on the PC's and communicate with a process on the VAX.

    f) Remote print and plotter outputs to computer-room devices.

    What are our chances of finding reasonably bug-free TCP software
    for the VAX and PC's which will allow us to continue these usages?

 5) I have heard some bad reviews of the Wollongong TCP/IP VAX product,
    and that some (unnamed) University has a much better one. Can
    anyone comment on the status of VAX TCP implementations? And is
    VMS V5 supposed to have one?

 This looks like quite a lot of questions, but the matter is serious
 to us and I want to do justice to the investigation. I will be
 grateful for any assistance, suggestions, or comments. Post them
 here, or mail them to me, or contact me directly at (312) 391-7908.
 Thank you.

 Mark Shumaker
 Zenith Electronics Corp.


- Andy -

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