SCO has officially announced Tarantella, billed as "the world?s first application broker". The technology allows legacy applications as well as Windows applications to be accessed simultaneously from any client that runs a browser supporting Java, while removing the need to install applications locally.
To accomplish this, Tarantella works as an intermediary, for instance accessing a 3270 host application in 3270 emulation mode, but transmitting the screen content to any client system, where the visualisation is done by a Java applet running in a browser.
In the same way, Tarantella can relay character-based Unix applications, X applications or Windows applications to a client system. Tarantella allows a user to access all these different types of application simultaneously. However, admits product manager Guy Singh, the current version will not allow users to cut and paste between two applications.
The transmission of screen content to the browser is done using a special protocol called the Adaptive Internet Protocol. SCO says the protocol adapts to the available bandwith and to the type of client being used, thus optimising performance while minimising bandwith use. The company claims this solution is superior to either Citrix ICA (wich is optimised for low bandwith) or T-Share, the protocol Microsoft will be using in its forthcoming Hydra.
There are limitations in this first version of Tarantella, admits Singh. For instance, the product now contains its own directory, where all information about users and their access rights is stored. This information cannot be automatically replicated to another Tarantella server. However, in the second quarter of 1998, SCO plans to release an update which features replication and limited load balancing capability. Later in 1998, Tarantella will support any LDAP 3 compliant directory, such as Novell's NDS, Singh says.
Tarantella will ship on 17 November on SCO?s own Unixware operating system and on Sun Solaris for Sparc. It will be priced at $249 per user for a 100 user license. In the course of 1998, SCO plans to release versions for other platforms such as HP/UX, AIX and NT. All these Tarantella versions are able to access applications running on Unix, NT or mainframes servers.
SCO readily admits that Microsoft's Hydra is considered by many as a formidable opponent for Tarantella. However, Singh says Tarantella is complementary to Citrix Winframe and Hydra (which is based on Winframe). To run Windows applications via Tarantella, a Winframe server is required. But, he says, Hydra in itself can not access legacy applications. ?To do that you will have to install emulators on top of Hydra, which will destabilise it and will require huge amounts of memory. With Tarantella, we will only use Hydra to run Windows applications. This also means you will be able to put more users on one WinFrame server thanks to Tarantella.? Singh claims Tarantella requires only 4Mbytes per user on the server, whereas Winframe uses ?anywhere between 8Mbytes and 16Mbytes?.
Howard Seabrook, research director for Gartner Group, believes ?application brokers? such as Tarantella are the way of the future. He agrees that Tarantella is the first application broker to reach the market. About Microsoft's Hydra, he says the product is more limited in scope. ?Hydra is essentially about solving a series of Windows environment problems," Seabrook says - such as manageability and ease of deployment, rather than addressing issues like access to legacy or Unix applications. ?Although the final goal might be similar, the declared path to get there is quite different?, Seabrook also remarks.
Of Corel?s Remagen technology, another future product that is expected to compete with Hydra and Tarantella, he says: ?What they are describing is a very attractive product, however the main question is their ability to execute.?
Howard Seabrook says all major enterprise hardware and software vendors should be considering application brokers or similar technology if they wish to be ready for the advent of Network Computing. ?If other companies are not thinking about these sort of answers, they are going to have a problem?, says Seabrook.
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