eComStation: Interview with Bob St. John
[Focus on OS/2]What is the "official" or best place to go for
information about eCS and related products?
[Bob St. John]Me? I would go to our web site or the websites of our
resellers. We have several discussion groups on eGroups (http://www.egroups.com) and we have
the NewServer at Mensys ... which is a work in progress. I think Mensys has done a good job
putting out info (http://www.ecomstation.nl).
[Focus on OS/2]Where do we go from here? From an announcement on
one of your channel partner's web sites (www.jbs.ca) it appears we can expect a whole family of
eCS products. Would you elaborate on that please?
[Bob St. John]As I said, eComStation is intended to be a
multi-platform client. Look for eCSL on Linux and eCS for Windows Users on the client side.
eComServer will be developed .. and you need to focus on our primary business of network
centric computing with Mobile Managed Clients .. but here you can expect to see eCS working
with eComServer .. WarpServer, Linux server support, Linux boot servers, Domino and Websphere.
[Bob St. John]Our view is that the industry is moving to networks,
Java applications being served over the network, including the Internet. The future is not
office suites. E.Mail is now a mission critical line of business application. It's about buying
things on line, ordering, paying, tracking, managing supplies and inventories. I think this is
one thing IBM understands very well ... and Microsoft .. not so well.
[Bob St. John]And I'll say again, the same features and technologies
will be used by home users, power users, SOHO, casual business desktop users, road warriors
with laptops. The key will not be the features being delivered. It will be how they are
delivered. How they are supported. And how well they are positioned for the next big thing.
[Bob St. John]Most users are not using the software they will be
using four years from now. How are they going to get there? Do they throw "all this" out?
That's the way we are designing and delivering eCS .. to participate as a Tier 1 client in an
e.commerce environment ... which means the entire computing environment.
[Bob St. John]The network client is changing ... palm devices, cell
phones, Internet appliances ... become Tier 0. Entry points into the network. And the challenge
will involve sharing information in this environment. eComstation will be playing in that space
... and pretty much every other space, too.
After looking over the above questions, there were some answers I wanted additional information on or
wanted to "pin down" Bob a bit more on. In addition additional questions came to mind. We dealt with
these in the following live chat session:
[Note]Before I turned the log on, I had asked Bob to explain the terms "Manage" and "WiseMachine" as
used in connection with eComStation and related products.
[Bob St. John] There is software built in to the system to
manage operations on that machine. It is easier to see when you look at WiseManager, the
administrative workstation for building and managing client workstations on the LAN.
WiseManager sends instructions to WiseServer, which sits on the bootserver ... and WiseServer
executes those with WiseClient running on the client.
[Bob St. John] Now .. WiseMachine, which is a new implementation, is a
baby brother to all this .. and works on one system.
[Bob St. John] So .. you should have one level of managed
client function when you are not connected to the network .. it would allow you to deploy
software on your system .. and it will grow to help manage operations. Then, when the network
connection to WiseServer exists, WiseClient kicks into gear and you are "ratcheting up" the
level of Managed Client functionality.
[Bob St. John] I'll admit that,
in release ".9" it can be hard to distinguish WiseMachine from another slick utility running on
PC. Where the difference will come in involves the growth of WiseMachine .. among
resellers,vendors, other users.
[Bob St. John] But there is no question,
we see every PC as network client. Even if the network connection is so tenuous as an Internet
[Focus on OS/2] This leads me to the next question. The
contents of eCS: You have already given me [in the email above] a list of the contents of the
system. I didn't see JFS in there, and I remember seeing an announcement that JFS would be a
part of the basic eCS. Can you clarify this?
[Bob St. John] I took your
question to mean "what comes with" .. as in what is bundled with ... yes, JFS is part of the
base product. And we recently announced that we will be including the OS/2 Toolkit. That is
something the folks on eGroups have been requesting. We were looking at it for the Programmer's
Workbench .. but these folks said it should be on every system.
[Bob St.John] The toolkit is really for folks who write programs .. and,
to me, that's the minority of desktop users. But it seems to be something the "early adopters" really want.
It was not on the other list, either.
[Bob St. John] Frankly, I'm pretty impressed with the value propostion. OS/2 V4 users have the opportunity to spend $140 .. get
two office suites, including one that retails for a couple of hundred dollars. The toolkit is
valued at over $200. Desktop on Call is on IBM's site for $40. And that doesn't even get into
the Convenience Pack code ...
[Bob St. John] going back to the 'value
proposition', I appreciate that those items only have value if you want them ... which is why
we have not raised the pricing.
[Focus on OS/2] This is a bit of an
aside, but if I want to go one place (on the 'Net) to get the official answer, where should I
[Bob St. John] Official answer to what question?
[Focus on OS/2] I was thinking of features, date of delivery, that kind of
[Bob St. John] ecomstation on eGroups
[http://www.egroups.com/group/eComStation] is probably as good as anything. I wanted to put
discussion forums on the Serenity Systems site, but the resellers wanted to host those. So far,
Mensys news server is the only one that's up and running. And it is now focused on support
[Bob St. John] Over time .. I think we'll have more discussion
groups on all the reseller web sites.
[Focus on OS/2] Thanks. The one
at Jacaranda in Toronto is beginning to get off the ground. There's also quite a lot of useful
info there. The URL is (http://www.jbs.ca)
[Focus on OS/2] Going back to
the Managed Client question, is WiseMachine more or less functional in the current preview
[Bob St. John] I want to create a tiered infrastructure. That's
why I kept referring you to JBS. I want to support the reseller - distributor.
[Bob St. John] OK wisemachine
[Bob St. John]WiseMachine is something that only started in April when eGroups started. It's a response to the early discussions that went along the lines "Managed Client features and functions are fine ... but I don't sit on the network all the time. What are you going to do for me?"
[Bob St. John] So, we sat around and agreed that we did not want to go down
the "fat client" path.
[Bob St. John] We think the Internet will make
the fat client machines the wrong box for the majority of users.
[Bob St. John] The result was WiseMachine .. which is a new implementation designed specifically
[Focus on OS/2] So .. what users see in GA will be more that
what's in the Preview because we are still developing WiseMachine and that will continue for
the next several years.
[Bob St. John] However, we are still really
about the WiseManager->WiseServer->WiseClient managed client functionality. The plan is to get
WiseMachine up to that level.
[Focus on OS/2] OK, thanks.
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