The Idea of Openness at Work

Everybody sells "open systems" these days, don't they? To be against openness would be more than politically incorrect; it would turn off potential customers in droves.

True as this may be, anyone who has tried to find the facts among the competing claims of vendors knows that open systems is a moving target, a term used to suit purposes of widely varying intent.

Perhaps it is more useful to consider some examples of the changes in computing that have been stimulated by the idea of openness. This month UniForum's IT Solutions examines issues in technology and, yes, marketing that reach from mission-critical solutions at the top of client/server architectures to alternatives on the desktop.

"More Than Money Can Buy" presents case studies of how some user organizations employ high-end Unix systems to handle jobs previously left to mainframes.

"The Changing Face of Midrange Platforms" examines how vendors of products well-known as proprietary in the middle tier try to deal with the demand for open systems.

"CDE Finds a Comfortable Niche" considers the outcome of efforts to establish the Common Desktop Environment as an open desktop alternative to Windows. It also looks at the maturing of the Single UNIX Specification (née Spec 1170, UNIX '95).

We hope that these articles will add to your understanding of the state of the art in this driving force in enterprise computing.

--Jeffrey Bartlett