by Harry Skelton -- firstname.lastname@example.org
[Editor's Note: Many thanks to Harry Skelton for sending us this article. It's not the sort of thing I have the expertise to write about personally, yet I suspect that a number of people will be interested. By the way, that means that you should direct questions about this directly to Harry. Also, to be fair, I gather that there are other gateways, though as I said, I don't know anything about them. Oh, and for you budding biologists out there, I bloody well do know the difference between a crocodile and an alligator - it just sounded like a nice title.]
In dealing with the Unix marketplace, and having a need internally for a Macintosh gateway product, I made a startling discovery!
GATORBOX IS NOT ALONE!
If you purchase a GatorBox with GatorShare and GatorMail-Q, you'll spend $7,200. If you purchase a Sony NEWS system with AppleShare, you'll spend $6,800. BUT! the NEWS system gets its connectivity via uShare Plus from Information Presentation Technologies (IPT). uShare Plus will run under SCO Unix and SCO Xenix and costs $395 for server software and $59 (presumably each) for client software. For that, you get complete file sharing, print services, email services, telnet, ftp, and other items. I believe that uShare Plus also runs under other platforms as well. Hardware-wise, they sell a LocalTalk card for $295 for your PC and hardware for VME/SBus/MicroChannel and Sony Bus.
I called Cayman Systems regarding this "problem," and, taken aback, they drilled me for details regarding uShare Plus. They wanted to know what box this ran on, how fast it worked, what Apple format it used. (GatorBox will store the file in both Apple I or Apple II format [*ACK**PHHHTT*] which makes it near impossible to download the file from your Unix host from home.) IPT explained to me that they support those formats as well as MacBinary II (the normal file format for us BBS junkies).
After about an hour of grilling, I told Cayman the price. Silence. Then they told me that they wanted to transfer me to someone else regarding this. It was their Marketing Director. (Gee, wonder if I hit a nerve?) After I explained the services and support that IPT is willing to provide, he could only explain that Cayman is expanding their services (they have been talking about this for at least two years now) and that they are looking into changing their code to support MacBinary II format (this claim also checks in at about two years old). After talking about services and speed, he explained that he knew the overhead on the GatorBox and they were working on trying to make it run faster. He even went so far as to explain that a newer and bigger box with better DMA and other things was to show up later in the year. But just as in trying to judge religion, the talk regarding these two Mac products got nowhere fast. He hung up. I started grinning.
For all those users who thought NFS connectivity to a Mac with email, printing, virtual disk, and server abilities would cost $7000+++ ... guess again and check out the Sony NEWS server with uShare Plus.
Cayman Systems -- 800/473-4776 -- 617/494-1999
IPT -- 800/232-9993 -- 818/347-7991
Sony Microsystems -- 800/624-8999 x 96 -- 408/434-6644