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Articles about DEC
Volume 8, #1____________________________________________________________________ January, 1989
The Desktop And Beyond
Digital’s No-Compromise Computing Strategy by Jack Smith, senior vice president, Manufacturing, Engineering and Marketing
Winning The Desktop by Dom LaCava, vice president, Low-End Systems Engineering
Which Desktop For You? Computing For Every Desk by Henry Ancona, vice president, Business and Office Systems
Capturing The Desktop Through Service by Dave Grainger, vice president, Field Services
Distributed Transaction Processing And The Desktop by Dennis Roberson, manager, Transaction Processing
The Desktop And Integrating The Enterprise by Bill Johnson, vice president, Distributed Systems
Sales Challenges Of The 1990s by Joe DiNucci, manager, U.S. Workstations
Questions For Ken Olsen
To herald the arrival of products designed to make Digital the leader in the desktop computing market, over 3000 Digital sales, service and marketing people participated in a special training session known as "DECtop University" in Littleton, Mass. Held in December and early January, this training prepared people to sell and service the new products beginning on the very day of the announcement — January 10.
In his introductory remarks at the training, Ken Olsen, president, noted, "We now have everything from terminals and timesharing to a complete line of personal computers, as well as VMS and Unix workstations. Our job now is to pull together as one company to bring this message and these products to our customers."
The overall "DECtop" plan, sponsored by Product Marketing and Low-End Systems, includes all desktop training, public relations and promotion and area-level customer events. These activities are intended to create a single, coordinated "desktop voice" to communicate clearly and consistently Digital’s desktop message: Digital now has a full range of products and services. There is no need for customers to make compromises on their desktop solutions. Now when choosing desktop computing solutions, Digital sales people can "just say ’yes.’"
The following are summaries of the speeches from the opening day general sessions of the training.
Over the past few months, we have made a number of announcements regarding the capabilities we will bring to the desktop -- for example our technology and equity agreement with MIPS Computer Systems and our new relationship with Ashton-Tate. These agreements, as well as our own product development, will lead to many exciting capabilities for the desktop. These pieces of our overall product strategy flow from our vision of computing and our architectural concepts.
We should always keep in mind that the ultimate success of any product strategy depends on how well it provides for present and future business environments. The business environment is becoming much more competitive, and organizations must be prepared to compete globally. As a result, we and our customers are under great pressure to lower costs, raise productivity, bring products to market more quickly and get higher returns on all investments. Simply stated, we all must become more effective at what we do.
Information utilization is the key to meeting the challenge of such an environment. Information must become a tangible business asset. People need access to information if they are to meet competitive challenges.
To meet this need, organizations have invested heavily in information systems. But in many enterprises these investments have not been optimized.
A tremendous amount of information is generated on the desktop; but often that information is not shared or used effectively. Huge investments have been made in multi-vendor systems that cannot talk with one another. Desktop users often cannot access information and resources beyond their own desktops. Delay in information flow and access to resources contribute to the unproductive, uncreative, uncompetitive enterprise.
Our strategy provides a way to cope with this environment. It’s our dream of the present and future.
In our vision, information can flow throughout the entire organization, supporting and enhancing business decisions. Our vision is instant, uninterrupted access to information for ourselves and our customers. We want desktop users to be able to share their information and to access information from around the organization and also from suppliers, from distributors and from customers from any source that adds to the total productivity and creativity of the enterprise.
We want to optimize this opportunity for our customers. That is the value added, the competitive advantage that we must capitalize on now and build on in the future.
Where do we stand in carrying out this vision? Today, we are in a leadership position, thanks to tremendous investment and years of development time. Our ability to pull this off is the result of the planning, continuity and discipline that went into our single system architecture. It is in the context of this single system architecture that we will look at our product strategy.
Our computing strategy was established over a decade ago and has been refined many times over. It was motivated by a vision of the role of computing in the enterprise. In that vision, computers would be broadly deployed throughout the enterprise, close to the business problems and close to the end user. These computers would be linked into an enter- prise-wide computer network, permitting information to flow freely throughout the enterprise and permitting people and computing resources to work together in real time to solve the business problems of the enterprise.
To realize this vision we believe in three product attributes:
o pervasive, consistent networking Within this networking environment, all products would be disciplined, conforming to a single defined networking approach.
o distributed computing — In a distributed environment, the operating system and higher level software components would use the network such that there was no distinction between local and remote applications and data.
o a wide range of compatible products — An application could be written once and then deployed on whatever systems were needed — from the desktop to the data center.
To implement our vision, we established a single system architecture that was the framework into which all our products would fit.
At the time this work began, the prevailing view was that a system architecture should focus on base hardware or an operating system. But the developers of the VAX family had in mind a system architecture that went far beyond this concept.
They designed a system architecture that not only included the hardware and operating system, but networking, data management, application integration and core applications as well. They structured a system architecture that carefully specified a number of components and the relationships or interfaces between them. Only when all of these architectural components were designed and properly layered would we truly have the system architecture of the future.
What is the value of this approach? An architecture with such layered components gave us the unique ability to change or evolve one component of the architecture without changing all the others. It did not lock us into any one approach at any one of the layers.
Our single system architecture includes all the layers — from base hardware to focused applications — that can evolve independently and still play together. This architectural approach provides the framework for responding to changing technology and customer needs in a way that preserves customer investment.
For example, today, because we isolated networking to a single component of our system architecture, rather than spreading it throughout, we can evolve our DECnet software to full OSI compliance, while maintaining our customers’ investments in networked applications. We also have added our Unix-based ULTRIX operating system in parallel with our VMS operating system. And, at the base hardware layer, we now have RISC as well as VAX hardware.
Now with this same architectural framework, we can look to the future of our product strategy.
At the system level, we will continue to offer computers with both VMS and ULTRIX operating systems. Both are strategic to us.
VMS software will be offered on VAX-based hardware and ULTRIX software will be offered on not only on VAX-based hardware but also on a complete line of RISC-based hardware from the desktop to the data center.
We introduced RISC technology at the workstation level because it is here that we believe its performance gives us the most immediate advantage.
We also will increase our investment in VAX hardware and become even more aggressive than in the past with technology enhancements aimed at achieving a 50% price/performance improvement per year. The technologies and product definitions that will allow us to do this have already been planned. The concepts have been tested and implementation is under way.
In our minds, VMS remains the leadership operating system in the industry. It provides the broadest functionality and the most integrated software. Our recent announcements in transaction processing reinforces our commitment to continue VMS leadership.
On the other hand, we are equally supportive of our customers’ needs for industry standard software systems. Digital was instrumental in establishing the Open Software Foundation (OSF), and our recent ULTRIX Version 3 release indicates that we plan to lead in high quality, industrial strength Unix software.
Regardless of whether customers choose the VMS or ULTRIX operating system, RISC or VAX hardware, we will supply systems — from the desktop to the data center. And when the customers need both ULTRIX and VMS operating systems, we will provide the highest possible interaction between them.
What about the other architectures our customers have already invested in? We believe our single system architecture and Digital as a single supplier is the optimum solution. But we are aware that many customers have made major investments in computer architectures from other vendors. That is why an important part of our product strategy is the integration of other computer architectures with our own. Otherwise, our dream of integrating the total enterprise could not be accomplished in many business situations.
Our current integration capabilities cover:
o MS-DOS (personal computers),
o IBM (for corporate data),
o Cray (supercomputers),
o Apple Macintosh (personal computers), and
o Unix/OSF (technical workstations).
Our competitive advantage, our value added, our dream is a product strategy based on a vision of distributed computing. This distributed computing is based on our system architecture, which was designed from the beginning to meet our customers’ needs for integrating the enterprise and to accommodate, in an evolutionary way, the changes in computing technology. Technologies can evolve independently, at different layers of the architecture, and still play together.
This is a disciplined system architecture to assure synergy and to maintain the past investments of our customers.
Digital has the opportunity to become the leading supplier of desktop computing solutions - the type of computing most people will need during the 1990s. The desktop market will make up over 40% of worldwide computer revenue in 1991. That’s almost $60 billion in revenue.
Our goal is to win the desktop because winning the desktop is the key to winning in the entire enterprise. If you have a winning approach to desktop computing, you will satisfy your customers' needs. That’s because desktop computing can give users dedicated resources available on their desks, and at the same time, access to all other resources in the enterprise-wide environment.
This integration of desktop computing into the overall enterprise environment is possible through our advances in software and hardware. And that’s our winning edge in the battle for the desktop market of the 1990s.
Six months ago these capabilities were being developed. Today they are ready to be delivered. Here is our desktop strategy:
Digital provides desktop users with leadership solutions on the desk and beyond, plus the ability to easily expand these solutions, without jeopardizing their current investments.
Digital provides these solutions for whatever desktop style of computing the customer wants:
o For customers who do simple wordprocessing, mail, and spreadsheets, we sell leadership terminals.
o For customers who require MS-DOS industry-standard personal computers, we sell our new family of Digital personal computers.
o For customers who want a fast, Unix workstation, we sell our new RISC-based Unix workstation.
o For customers who want a VAX-based desktop system, we sell an entire range of VAX- station systems.
o For customers who already have made investments on the desk, we will integrate those other products into the enterprise better than any of our competitors.
Digital provides a solution tuned to the customer’s needs. Through local area networks and network application support, we can link the user to the enterprise information network anywhere, anytime. This desktop strategy provides customers with the best computing tools to get their jobs done.
For many customers, the terminal is still the preferred desktop device. They want to do simple wordprocessing, electronic mail and perhaps some spreadsheet work. For these customers we offer the successful VT300 series of terminals. Last year was our best year ever in terminals. VT300 series shipments exceeded all forecasts: we shipped more than 500,000 terminals — up more than 55% in one year.
Our customers have said that they want an industry-standard MS-DOS machine from Digital. Now we offer a new family of DECstation personal computers. These systems are the result of our strategic alliance with Tandy. The DECstation 210, 316 and 320 systems are based on Intel 80286 and 80386 chips. They are fully MS-DOS compatible and completely backed by Digital services. And through DECwindows for MS-DOS, users have VAX systems as a shared computing resource for interactive graphics applications.
The DECstation PCs are for customers who want a single-vendor Digital solution, or who want to add to the personal computer base that they already have. Customers have also said that they want to incorporate their existing PC base - including Compaq. IBM. Tandy, Olivetti, Zenith and Macintosh systems t- into the larger computing environment. Our PC integration products lead the way in providing these capabilities.
We continue to be strong in workstations and are getting even stronger. This year Digital became the fastest-growing workstation vendor in the industry, surpassing the growth rate of Sun Microsystems. We’re now number one in Europe. We leaped over Apollo to become number two in the U.S. workstation market. And we’re heading toward the number one position here. We’ve sold more than 30,000 VAXstation 2000 systems. That’s quite a record for the short time we’ve been in this market.
Now we’re turning up the heat even more with the VAXstation 3100 systems, which you may have heard called “the personal VAX" system. This aggressively priced, CMOS-based workstation offers three times the price/performance of the VAXstation 2000 system. It features compact, desktop packaging, and a new generation of high-performance storage devices. This system should exceed the sales record of the VAXstation 2000 system.
We also have a new higher end of the VAXstation line — the VAXstation 3520 and 3540 systems, which you may have heard called "Firefox." These new 2D and 3D graphics workstations offer customers multiprocessing performance. And the graphics are displayed on a new, higher-resolution monitor.
This year the great majority of all workstations sold run Unix software. Ninety percent of the VAXstation systems we’ve sold run VMS software. We became number two in workstations by selling VAX/VMS workstations. Now we’re ready to increase our share of the Unix workstation market.
Some customers have demanded very high performance Unix-based, technical workstations. For those customers, we’re offering the DECstation 3100 system, which you may have heard referred to as the "P-MAX." This aggressively priced, compact Unix workstation is based on the RISC technology we’ve gained as part of our strategic alliance with MIPS Computer Systems. This is a fast system. Our benchmarks show that it will run up to 10 times faster than a VAX 11/780 computer. Right now, the DECstation 3100 system offers the best price/performance of any Unix desktop workstation in the marketplace. It runs ULTRIX Version 3 software. This is the system that will compete directly with Sun.
We want leading chip technology that will help enhance our time-to-market goals dramatically. We made a business decision that it would be better for us to buy technology instead of making it ourselves right now. With MIPS we found leading chip technology and highly optimized compilers. The combination of this RISC technology, our ULTRIX operating system and the optimizing compilers provides us with the leadership position.
What does this mean for our investment in VAX computing? Securing RISC technology from MIPS means that we can continue to focus our internal resources on substantially enhancing the VAX hardware family.
Whether customers choose the VMS or ULTRIX operating system, we will supply solutions over the full range of computing - from the desktop to the data center. When our customers need both ULTRIX and VMS software, they will get smooth interaction between common components of our single system architecture.
There’s one extremely important area that I haven’t emphasized enough yet, the part that brings it all together — software.
These are the components of our powerful desktop software environment:
o DECwindows, desktop VMS and ULTRIX software,
o the Compound Document Architecture
o the Epic series of Enterprise applications,
o PC integration products,
o key applications from independent software vendors, and
o VAXpc — a software MS-DOS emulator that runs on any VAX computer.
These are all partners, working together to create our winning desktop environment. The hardware without the new software is limited. The software without the powerful new desktop systems is limited. But together - we can offer our customers something that is unique in the inaustry.
Users will work in a completely integrated application environment. They can use applications under the three most popular operating systems: VMS, Unix, and MS-DOS. They’ll do this simultaneously, and they won’t need to know which operating system they’re using.
This happens through DECwindows — the unifying user interface that will make our desktop systems easier to use. In the future, when you use a Digital desktop system, you will only need to know the very simple DECwindows style of interaction. The operating system will be transparent to the user.
In this new desktop computing environment, resources on the network are exactly like resources at the desktop. Users won’t even know what’s running locally and what’s running remotely. The internal workings of computing happen out of the users’ sight. The desktop system and the network help them like silent partners.
Our portfolio of desktop devices now provides our customers with competitively priced, high-performance systems, and the best integration available today. Our systems share a common look and feel. They support the DECwindows environment, and they're based on the three most popular operating systems. — VMS, Unix and MS-DOS. Our desktop systems will be the choice for applications throughout the enterprise — from the front office to the computer-aided engineering facility.
With this announcement, we also take the lead as the only single-source vendor who can offer a complete range of desktop solutions.
We now have the strategy and products so you can sell the complete solution — both the desktop and the network.
We have four messages:
o When you sell a total solution, your customers gain a complete solution from one vendor, and you double your yield.
o All organizations have a mix of desktops, but only Digital has the capability to support all those desktops in a single coherent environment. Digital’s network application support (NAS) is the key to achieving that. The desktop is part of that complete solution, but it has to fit in the total network.
o If your customer has already made the desktop decision, just say "yes." That gives you an opportunity to integrate those desktops through our network applications support strategy and to sell new desks that fit the customer’s strategy wherever possible.
o If a customer has not made a decision, and is looking to us for guidance, we have a series of questions — a decision tree - to simplify the process.
Digital sells total solutions to solve business problems. Solutions are built of hardware, networks, operating systems, applications software and the services to bring it all together. The desktop is a key piece, but it is only a part of our total focus on complete solutions.
Digital is not in the business of selling stand-alone desktop computers. We view the stand-alone desktop computer as a lonely and pitiful thing. We believe every desktop needs at least some computing, and some connection to the network. Like the telephone, it seems hard to imagine a desk without a network connection.
If an organization has $1 million to invest in solving a business problem, on average about 50% of that investment will be spent on the network, including the servers, applications, services and support. The other half of that sale is on the desktop, including the desktop hardware, desktop software, connections from the desktop into the network, and desktop support services.
In the past, Digital sales people would typically generate a proposal that outlined the entire $1 million solution, but would lose the desktop half of the solution to other vendors. We got only half the total revenue even though we made the sales effort to show the customer how the entire $1 million solution worked.
That’s all changing now. With our new desktop solutions, we can win the entire $1 million solution.
Our customers have three primary needs:
o to access the applications they need to get the job done from the desktop;
o to communicate with people in their department and across the entire organization; and o to share information and resources with fellow workers, and workers in other departments.
They need to be able to do all of these things from any desktop system. When different workers have different desktop systems, those workers must still be able to cooperate as a team. And all of our large accounts already have a wide variety of desktop system installed.
Digital’s Network Application Support (NAS) strategy was developed to meet these needs. Built on a collection of standards, the NAS strategy provides common applications access, communications, and information and resource sharing across multiple desktops, both Digital’s and other vendors'. This strategy enables us to tie together terminals, personal computers (those from Digital and other vendors), Macintoshes, VMS workstations and Unix workstations into a unified whole. And these devices are more than just connected to a network. They can work together, sharing information, application-to-application and worker-to-worker.
All of our customers have these needs, whether they’ve made a desktop decision or not. If a customer has already made a desktop decision, just say "yes," and sell NAS.
The customer may have selected a specific desktop hardware system or may have standardized on a specific desktop operating system or set of applications without specifying a desktop device. Now none of these decisions is a "no" to Digital.
If the decision has been made, we just say, "yes," and provide the best way in the industry to integrate their enterprise.
If the customer has standardized on a desktop operating system or application set, we have the solution, too. For instance, if they have just standardized on d-Base software, we have a strong relationship with Ashton Tate. d-Base used to be primarily an MS-DOS application, but that’s not true anymore. We’ve just extended their range of capabilities making applications like d Base compatible across multiple platforms. Regardless of which desktop the customer standardizes on. we can support it.
Our final opportunity is customers who want to provide a broad range of capabilities to their employees, but who don’t know which desktop solution to use to deliver it.
Before we make a recommendation, we need to:
o understand the users and their applications needs,
o be able to match the appropriate desktop solution to those needs, and
o and integrate the solution with the corporate network through NAS.
That’s easier said than done.
There are two broad applications categories. The first is simple applications, which generally involve text and/or numbers. These applications require only a character cell terminal device and black and white terminals. This is the base-line in computing - every desk needs at least a terminal.
Examples of simple applications include data entry or on-line transaction processing, data inquiry and electronic mail. Data entry clerks use simple applications all day long. Professionals and managers tend to log in a few times a day. For these applications, our recommended choice is a video terminal — our least expensive device. Digital offers an excellent line of video terminals with the VT300 product family.
Some workers need more. They want sophisticated applications that typically require heavy use of graphics in addition to text and numbers. These applications require a bit-map device for display and often require color. Sophisticated applications include computer- aided software engineering (CASE), expert systems for applications development, mechanical or electrical computer-aided design (CAD), or sophisticated financial applications and electronic publishing.
Those who use these applications are technical professionals such as researchers, CAD designers and manufacturing engineers, or business professionals, such as financial analysts, marketing managers, and financial traders. Some secretaries also must do a large volume of electronic publishing; so they need sophisticated applications as well.
Digital now offers a range of products for these sophisticated application needs. We can recommend a DECstation 200 or 300, VAXstation3100, DECstation 3100, orVAXstation3520or 3540 system.
Which personal computer or workstation is the right one to offer for sophisticated applications? There are a series of qualifying questions to help the customer select the right device.
Is the predominant need MS-DOS applications or is low price a key issue? If so, then recommend the DECstation 200 or 300 family. Some typical users in this category are
secretaries who have begun to use MS-DOS electronic publishing packages, cost-center analysts who depend on MS-DOS spreadsheets, or test engineers in a research environment.
The next questions are: "Do you need the power of VMS? Do you need a complete computing environment built around distributed applications with an identical capability from the desktop to the data center? Do you need the best distributed systems and network management in the industry? Do you need to be able to run or access applications from multiple environments from a single desktop?" If the answer to these questions is "yes," then recommend a VAXstation 3100 system.
The next questions are: "Do you need a specialized high-performance desktop systems? Or do you need to have Unix as your primary operating system on the desktop?" If the answers to these questions are "yes," recommend a DECstation 3100 system. These buyers will often include university research scientists, since universities have often selected Unix as their operating system. And it would include engineering simulation applications, because these customers require very high performance for their number-crunching.
The final set of questions is: "Do you need the ability to do 3D modeling? Are you a professional, such as a research scientist or a high-level CAD designer, who needs extensive 3D modeling applications as a part of your job?" If so, recommend a VAXstation 3520 or 3540 system.
All of our customers have difficult questions to be answered. All have a mix of devices on their desktops. But Digital’s commitment to standards in NAS gives us the capability to integrate all of these different desktops into one environment that works.
All the pieces are here, and the strategy is in place to support your customers’ needs.
Digital has an opportunity to capture the desktop market using service as the entry point.
We’ll use three new methods:
o We have formed a new service organization dedicated to integrating and supporting desktop products. It will become a trained extension of the sales force, contributing directly to the bookings of sales people.
o We will provide a new approach to low-cost, high-quality support for both Digital and non-Digital desktop products.
o We will extend our network planning and implementation capabilities to include specialized, cost-effective services for the desktop.
All together, these three efforts will help put the sales force in a position to capture the large desktop opportunity.
It is estimated that there are about 15 million personal computers today in American businesses, but less than 30% of those personal computers work together. By the mid- 1990s, the number of personal computers used worldwide in business will triple and 80% of them will be connected. That creates tremendous opportunities not just for tomorrow, but for today's sales.
Customers are searching for help right now. All those desktop systems work well independently; but they’re not sharing information, and end users are not as productive as they could be.
Customers need to network those desktop systems to capture their true power and connect the people in their enterprise. But this networking needs services. It's critical that end users receive support — the kind of value-added services that help them become truly productive with their desktop systems.
Digital is in the best position to translate those needs into reality. We’ve been gearing up for this for the past 15 years. We have provided multi-vendor support for over five years. We’ve connected general purpose and local area networks to bring the enterprise together from the data center to the desktop. And in the past year alone, we have project managed over 5000 network contracts.
We’re going to be aggressive. Field Service is forming a new organization that, initially. will provide support services for desktop products in the U.S. It will build on our existing services portfolio and will focus on needs of the workstation end user. These will be customized services driven by customer needs.
This desktop service force will become an extension of the sales force. They will be trained in sales techniques and programs so they can give the sales force leads, or even make some hardware sales that will be credited to the local sales representative.
The new desktop service organization will be managed by senior Field Sendee people and will focus on four areas of support: o low cost, multi-vendor maintenance.
o applications support,
o advisory support,
o and Netplan support for the desktop, providing interconnect services and support.
This full range of support services for the desktop will be available immediately and easily to customers through a central telephone hotline or through on-site support representatives.
If desktop owners can look to one vendor for high quality, cost-effective service, then we have the makings for powerful long-term customer relationships.
Once Digital is the vendor of choice for desktop services and support, our customers will look to us for much more — in solutions, in application services and in planning and growth support.
In the area of maintenance, we are introducing highly competitive services for the vast majority of personal computers, terminals and workstations used in business today, including our own.
In short, we’re going to make it easy and inexpensive for customers to have service for their desktop devices. But we’ll keep the high Digital quality that customers expect. And we'll provide this from a multi-vendor perspective. We’ll service equipment from Digital, IBM, Apple, Compaq, Tandy, Zenith, Olivetti and others.
But we’ll provide much more than maintenance support. We’ll provide value-added, "handholding" support to the end user, through a telephone hot-line for answers to all the day-to-day questions. In addition to answering the easiest questions like "How do I get my desktop system started?", we’ll provide support on the most frequently used third party applications, answering questions like, "How do 1 input my Microsoft word file into Aldus Pagemaker?" We’ll provide answers that will keep end users productive.
Through our advisory service, we’ll also respond to broader applications needs, such as, "I have a token ring network. Can I load Ethernet drivers into my IBM LAN server?" We will be a planning partner with our customers.
We will also provide interconnect support with Netplan services for the desktop. This will bring to the desktop what we now provide for general purpose computing. And it will answer the growing questions, "How do I make this all work together?"
Our interconnect services give us our best opportunity to make big inroads on the desktop.
There’s no other vendor out there — not even IBM— who has said they will integrate and support your entire enterprise across the full range of vendor products with a full range of services that are competitively priced.
Today there are about 6 million personal computers in Digital accounts. We anticipate that this will reach 11 million by 1991.
Our corporate goal is to win 2 million new desktops over the next two years. We’re targeting departments of all sizes in Digital accounts — large and small. But primarily, we’ll go after connecting desktops of 50 or more. This will include personal computers, workstations and terminals from Digital, IBM, IBM clones, Compaq and Apple.
We’ll win because we’ll be competitively priced with both national and international coverage. We'll win because we’ll custom tailor support to meet our customers’ departmental plans. Or we’U win because we can address a major program or project opportunity at the corporate or enterprise level.
Our customers today are looking for total solutions, not just products. They use their systems and networks to keep ahead of their competitors, and they depend on us to keep them competitive. We can do this by bringing our entire enterprise services strategy to the desktop.
We work with information managers to plan, design, implement and manage enterprise-wide computing strategies. We combine the expertise of Field Service, Software Services and Educational Services under the new systems integration umbrella.
Our services professionals are experts in systems integration, with hundreds of successful projects to their credit. With this expertise, we can win even the largest integration projects, but especially those involving the desktop.
All of this will be further enhanced by our educational services, which provide the critical link to our customers’ success. We have hundreds of courses available in multiple languages, using instructor-based or computer-based training methods. We will train wherever it’s most convenient — at their site or ours.
We enter into a partnership with our customers to integrate their enterprise and to bring everything together from the desktop to the data center. In short, we help craft the right solution and make it all work.
Can we really deliver what we say we can? We have a worldwide service organization of 39,000 top professionals who deliver hardware, software and educational services from 450 service locations around the world. We’ve been providing multi-vendor service since the early 1980s, and now support more than 1000 products manufactured by 100 different vendors.
Our network service expertise is unrivaled in the industry. We have more than 15 years experience designing, implementing and managing customer networks around the world. Last year our networks services business alone was as big as a Fortune 1000 company.
Over the last several years, we’ve invested over $1 billion in our support resources, in customer support centers and in technologies to provide the industry’s most innovative and cost effective service.
And it’s paying off. For the past two years, the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) annual customer survey has ranked Digital number one in workstation service. (Last year Hewlett-Packard ranked 4th and IBM 7th). So when we say we can provide the services to capture the desktop — believe it.
This all translates into a quick and effective entry into the desktop market. It means new orders for both services and products. It means retaining customers and extending our reach. It also means winning new customers.
Service will be there on the inside, gaining an understanding first-hand of our customers’ business needs. The service force will become an extension of the sales force. Anything resulting from service's efforts will be credited to the local sales representative. Now that we have the solutions that customers need, Sales and Services, working together, can capture the desktop.
Transaction processing means performing a series of actions that together comprise the completion of a business deal. It does not have to involve an exchange of money. Sometimes it consists only of making an agreement, such as an airline or hotel reservation.
But all activities that comprise a transaction must be performed as a complete unit, or not at all. Imagine the problems a shopper would have who was elbowed away from the counter after paying but before getting his or her merchandise and change.
A transaction is a series of activities that must be carried through to completion. If this is not possible, its participants must be able to return to their original state. There is no half-way point.
Another way to look at transaction processing is to compare modes of travel. The timesharing style of computing is characterized by random start and end points, and random start and end times. This is analogous to traveling by foot or by automobile. You can start your trip where and when you like. And mid-way. you can change your mind and proceed to a new destination, anytime you like.
Transaction processing is more structured than time-sharing, rather like plane or train travel, in which your start and end locations are fixed. The time it takes to get from your start to end point is what you try to optimize. For instance, once airborne, the 200 passengers on a plane are committed to flying to a single destination. They are not free to change their minds in mid-flight, to each travel to 200 different places.
As a computing environment, transaction processing exhibits a number of characteristics that differentiate it from other types of computing. It plays an unusually critical role in the businesses that use it. We call it the "you-bet-your business" style of computing.
Imagine the importance of airline, hotel and automobile reservation systems to travel agencies, for instance. They essentially cannot operate without these systems.
Transaction processing systems also tend to support large numbers of users - tens of thousands in many cases - who are all accessing and modifying a large, shared database. Every one of these users does transaction processing from a desktop unit. That is the tie between transaction processing and the desktop.
Transaction processing systems also must provide extremely fast response time — while the customers wait. Even small delays in response time can quickly deteriorate their customer’s satisfaction.
Finally, each transaction executed by the system — a credit card transaction, for instance — must be executed with absolute integrity. Your credit card charges are executed irrespective of other people’s charges. Each transaction constitutes a separate business contract between participants.
In its most basic form, a transaction processing (TP) system is very simple, consisting of a user interface, an application and database management. A complete TP system can run very efficiently on a single desktop. More often, TP systems are accessed by many desktop users, or by groups of users hooked into MicroVAX computers, networked to mid-range or large Digital processors.
Transaction processing systems often experience tremendous and unpredictable growth, requiring the ability to add many desktop resources quickly and inexpensively.
This brings up the first of several distinctive TP needs that Digital is particularly able to satisfy. At the heart of a modem transaction processing system is a transaction processing monitor. All the rest of the hardware, software and networking required for TP involves products that are used in other kinds of computing environments. The hardware is desktop-intensive, quite often involving thousands of terminals or thousands of workstations. The monitor is layered software that connects the customer's application to the database, the hardware and the operating system. The monitor coordinates a number of key system functions, acting as a traffic cop.
Digital offers two TP monitors to meet customers’ needs — DECintact and ACMS — both of which run on VMS software. We provide that choice because, today, transaction processing application development is performed in two very different environments.
The DECintact monitor was purchased from a third-party software vendor to give us instant access to banks and the financial community. It provides an IBM style of programming. This style provides flexibility and an inexpensive learning curve. We bought the best base technology available and added Digital quality. Our success with it was immediate.
The ACMS monitor offers high productivity, fourth-generation language development tools and programming techniques. This style provides program structure and low application maintenance costs. This high quality product has achieved particular success in manufacturing enterprises, among others.
In the next two years, we will incrementally merge DECintact and ACMS into a single monitor, with combined functionality, while maintaining the two different interface personalities. TP applications developed today will run on Digital’s monitors of the future.
We’ve achieved major wins in some very large accounts with these products. Our competitive advantages include price/performance leadership, rapid application development, scalability from the desktop to the data center, networked transaction processing, and interoperability.
Before last July, Digital was not even considered a player in the TP arena. IBM’s "RAMP C" benchmark was the standard for transaction processing performance comparisons. In July, we announced our price/performance leadership in transaction processing, with a 3-to-l Debit-Credit price/performance benchmark advantage over IBM. Today, less than five months later, we are recognized as being a key player in the game and have gained major "mind share" in this arena.
IBM is responding to the challenge on our debit-credit benchmark terms. They recently joined the Transaction Processing Council — the standards body for the Debit-Credit benchmark, after initially ignoring it. That change underscores their concern.
It’s very difficult to decisively win a benchmark war. Price/performance metrics vary widely, according to the application being tested and even the way the application is run. Nevertheless, in many transaction processing environments, we have significant price/performance leadership over our competition.
Transaction processing is used by everyone from universities to the U.S. Army, from major manufacturers to telecommunication giants. We do sell to banks, but just as in the case of airline reservation systems, transactions being processed do not always involve exchanging money.
Transaction processing can be used by just about every organization in a manufacturing enterprise — from sales to field service, from marketing to manufacturing, from engineering to finance, to personnel. The number of applications that can benefit from transaction processing has barely been tapped.
That is why this area is growing extremely fast — 66% faster than computer industry as a whole. It is expected to grow from a $26 billion business area today to over $50 billion by 1992. This is an opportunity that Digital cannot afford to miss.
Our desktop capabilities and strategy make a powerful story. But the key to our success in this area is networking.
Digital’s networking vision is very simple — we will connect anything to anywhere at any time. In other words, as end users and their MIS support make greater and greater demands on their systems, Digital will already have in place the networking capabilities to meet those demands.
We will do this by providing an unparalleled combination of connectivity (meaning hardware) and interoperability, distributed applications and network manageability (meaning software).
Customers today find themselves with a wide variety of systems sitting on the desktop because they have tended to build desktops driven by application needs. Some picked desktop systems for electronic publishing applications, others picked workstations, like the VAXstation 2000 system, for engineering applications. Now, customers want these desktop systems to be connected. We can do that.
No one connects as many desktop systems as Digital. If you've got it. we'll connect it.
Using the Ethernet industry standard, we can connect all the Digital desktop systems from
terminals to Tandys, including Digital’s array of personal computers and workstations. In addition, we offer superb connectivity to the IBM 3270 and IBM-PC compatible world, including ATs, XTs and PS/2s, as well as Compaq. Olivetti, Zeniths, and Apple computers.
Customers also have an existing investment in a wide variety of transmission media, and the costs in terms of disruption of changing that media are very high. That is why we offer the best choice for desktop connectivity — Ethernet — over the widest variety of media, including unshielded twisted-pair, twisted-pair, fiber optics, traditional coaxial cable, and ThinWire coaxial cable, even microwave over our Metrowave Bridge.
The major Digital difference on the desktop, and something the competition in Local Area Networks cannot provide the end user, is "scalability." This means that if your customers want three or five or seven desktop systems hooked together to share files or share printers, we can do that now. Then if someday this group wants to link to another department, or division or another pail of the world, we’ll handle that, too. And our customers won't have to replicate costly databases or get rid of what they’ve purchased. We’ll allow customers to extend what they've already done right out to a global, enterprise-wide level.
Scalability is the distinctive competence Digital brings to the network. In short, it’s why we can say to customers "start as small as you want; grow as large as you need."
Connectivity is easy. It’s not hard to create physical links between systems. But the end user needs to make those connections meaningful and useful. That requires "interoperability." It is interoperability that enables all system elements to seamlessly exchange information between networked desktop systems, regardless of the vendor, their operating system, or their location. This brings a lot of power to the desktop.
No one empowers the desktop user more than Digital. With Digital, there is a huge range of systems across which applications are interoperable. Using our recently enhanced IBM Interconnect products, applications can communicate across IBM desktop systems as well as IBM compatibles from such companies as Compaq, Olivetti, Zenith and Tandy. Applications can communicate across VMS, ULTRIX, MS-DOS, OS/2 and Apple Macintosh operating systems, and can all join a network. That’s the high level of interoperability customers want.
End users need to integrate information found outside their desktop. Using their personal computers or workstations as terminals, they want to access host resources like applications or files and transfer them back to their desks without having to spend a lot of time doing it. We can do that.
Users also want the information and resource sharing that comes when their desktop systems are integrated. For example, they want the ability to use centralized printers or high- cost disks not located at their desks.
More sophisticated customers are demanding the advantages of application sharing. This occurs when users not only share resources, but also centralized applications, which individual users can then access. This provides significant benefit to application maintenance, control and manageability.
Many companies are trying to meet these user needs. But the key Digital difference is that from the end user’s perspective, we’ll make these capabilities completely transparent, completely seamless to the user. Users can do their functions and not have to worry about navigating the network.
Digital also provides horizontal integration capability for such tasks as sharing files and printers on personal computer local area networks (PC LANs).
But perhaps more important, we can provide the vertical integration capability that enables personal computers to access widely dispersed and remote resources and allows applications to talk to each other across the network.
We can do this because Digital’s network architecture was designed from the beginning as a peer-to-peer architecture, meaning that every node on the network, whether personal computer or mainframe, has equivalent access capabilities. This is what allows any desktop system user to grab information from any system anywhere, any time it is appropriate.
No one offers the integration capabilities that Digital does. Also, no one allows access to as many applications from the desktop as Digital.
For example, Digital’s MAILbus product allows customers to upgrade their electronic mail into a distributed worldwide information environment. It integrates fully with VMS and ULTRIX software across a Unix gateway. It supports international messaging standards and connects through gateways to X.400-compliant mail systems and public mail services, like MCI, ITT and AT&T services. And it connects to mail systems of vendors that don’t subscribe to international standards, like IBM with PROS and DISOSS.
This is what Network Application Support (NAS) can do. Based on our enterprise-wide networking capabilities, it allows Digital to reach down from the enterprise to the desktop easily.
No one allows access to enterprise-wide computing resources as easily as Digital. Companies integrating personal computers (PCs) on local area networks (LANs) cannot easily integrate upward in corporate-wide networks. But Digital allows users on LANs to easily incorporate the desktop into enterprise-wide networks running distributed applications.
This means desktop users have direct access to distributed applications, such as electronic mail, and services such as videotext and electronic conferencing.
As enterprise-wide networks become the key to integration of all those desktop systems, customers are going to want their backbone networks to operate as cleanly, simply and efficiently as an electric utility or telephone. And network managers want the choice of where to manage the network.
One way to do that is to have centralized management that can reach down and integrate LANs into an enterprise network management scheme. With DECnet System Services (DSS), Digital can do that and more.
DECnet System Services is a set of Digital software products layered on top of DECnet. DSS makes it possible to combine multiple VAX computing systems into a highly-integrated, distributed computing environment.
With DSS, users can access remote files and printers as though they were local to their own system. They can eliminate system redundancy by storing one application centrally, such as Lotus 1-2-3, and then accessing it when necessary with no loss of performance. DSS truly makes the interoperability seamless.
The DSS products also make system management easier by providing tools for installing software and backup files across the network. This capability is essential in environments where desktop workstations are being used by workers who choose not to manage their own systems. A single system manager can provide services to a network of distributed client systems across both VMS and ULTR1X based systems, bringing down the cost of system management staff. Managers of local networks have a simple, central focal point for backing up and restoring disks, loading software and providing client administrative services like directories, transparently to the desktop. In other words, these products can help customers realize the full potential of Digital’s desktop systems and Digital’s distributed computing environment.
With the introduction of our new Enterprise Management Architecture, an enterprise management system now can extend the comprehensive network management products and services we currently provide for Digital networks to multi-vendor environments — to other vendors, other networks, other technologies, and to the desktop.
When it comes to integrating desktops, there are only a few simple things to remember: o No one connects to as many desktop systems as Digital.
o No one connects to as many media as Digital.
o No one offers the scalability that Digital does.
o No one empowers the desktop user more than Digital.
o No one offers greater integration capabilities than Digital.
o No one allows access to as many applications from the desktop as Digital.
o And no one offers the simplified distributed network management for the desktop that Digital does.
It is the unique combination of connectivity, interoperability, distributed applications and network management capabilities that allow Digital’s networking to provide the winning edge on the desktop.
We won’t take the back seat to anybody. Digital will provide users with what they want and need: the best desktop systems and an environment that opens the entire resources of the information system to the desktop.
In a recent Fortune magazine article, experts predict a slowdown in the growth rate of sales of mainframes, minicomputers and stand-alone personal computers. At the same time, they predict a very sharp increase in the growth of "network computers," which are workstations, personal computers and distributed systems that are tied together.
This fundamental shift in the computer marketplace is very good news for Digital. It means growth is coming in an area where Digital does better than anyone else — tying heterogeneous computing networks and systems together.
Much has been written about Digital’s false starts in the desktop market. Our history in personal computers has been much analyzed. You can expect that everything we do in the desktop arena will be second-guessed, third-guessed and compared to everybody else’s personal computers and workstations. But in the end, what’s going to matter is what the customers say.
Beware of people who declare themselves winners at the bottom of the second inning. Some of our competitors, especially in the workstation business, have a two-inning game plan. At the bottom of the second they were ahead two runs, and they called the game over. Now we’re in the bottom of the third, and we’re coming up with the top of our batting order.
Already, we’re growing a lot faster than the markets that we’re in. And I predict that by the end of the game, we’re going to be much higher in the standings.
Our strategy is "no-compromise computing." Our customers get what they want in terms of power, price/performance. operating systems, languages, applications, networks and sup
port. There is no need to trade off important features or benefits. If customers want to do things differently than what we’re used to doing, we can go with the flow. Whatever they decide to do, we have an answer that matches.
Our theme is: "just say yes." We sell them what they need. We sell them what they want.
The sales force makes the connection between the customer and the products. The sales representative, unit manager, district manager, corporate account manager, industry sales manager and area sales vice-president all have roles in supporting that connection, to find a fit, to make the match, to make the deal, and to keep it.
Customers demand value in the short term — measurable functionality, performance, capability and applications. They want things that work. Typically, they also have some price in mind either for the individual desktop element or for the whole project. Customers compare what we offer with everybody else is offering. Then they make a decision — hopefully in favor of our systems.
Keeping customers is a whole different bailgame. Now customers put a premium on protecting the investments they’ve made. They need to see the system adapt to changing business conditions, support evolving standards and deal with growth. They want to be sure that whatever they’ve spent money for - products, hardware, software, training, database creation, application software - is treated with respect and is valued and is adaptable. The quality has to be high enough so it works most of the time. And when it doesn't work, they don't want arguments about whose problem it is. You have to come in and fix the problem, keep the systems running, and keep them current.
From the point of view of the sales force, these are two different sets of considerations. To get customers, it’s important to be there and to know what you’re talking about. You have to be responsive and attentive. And in this competitive world, you have to be tenacious.
Keeping customers puts a different set of requirements on the sales force. You have to stay with the customer through thick and thin, not just be there to pick up the order. You should be there when the equipment gets installed. When problems occur, you solve them. You chase the missing cables, or get somebody to do it for you. You’re honest. You give straight answers about scheduled deliveries. And you follow through on your commitments.
You’re vigilant because, these days, everybody with a two-car garage is in the desktop computer business. The Digital sales person is challenged every day to come up against people with a better niche or point solution.
Let’s consider how products and the sales force combine to tip the scales in our favor.
Most of the time when we take IBM on head-to-head, we win because our much stronger product story offsets the fact that they have a much larger sales force.
On the other hand, if a customer has made a decision to use Unix workstations, we have had problems. In these cases, when we take Sun on head-to-head, they have had a better product answer. As with Digital vs. IBM, an edge in product strength overcomes a big discrepancy in the size of the sales force.
I contend that our desktop announcements are going to give us tremendous leverage and have an enormous impact on our sales efforts in this market.
As we learn about the new desktop products, remember the investments we’ve made in other areas — especially in networking. Networking is essential to winning and keeping major desktop projects. It is the capability that separates us the most from the competition.
Our corporate architect, Bill Strecker, who directs engineering spending among countless alternatives, believes, "There is no limit to the market for innovation that really solves people’s computing problems. But there is no market for innovation that doesn’t solve problems." He coined the term "vanity innovation." We don’t do vanity microprocessors or vanity operating systems. If there’s no real added value, we're not going to spend money on it.
We’ve made a lot of changes quickly. For a company the size of Sun to make the kind of moves that we’ve made in the past year would be remarkable. (And we do in a month as much business as Sun does in a year.) The fact that we made these kinds of changes and added them to an already winning strategy is phenomenal. We challenge the conventional thinking.
In fact, I would characterize Digital as either the world’s largest startup or the world’s most aggressive Fortune 50 company. That is how different we are from everyone else.
People respond to leadership. Customers like to be led by sales people who know what they’re talking about. And sales people like to be led by managers that know what they’re talking about.
Our "no-compromise" strategy gives us leadership at the product level and at the sales force level. We’re going to win with leadership.
Over the course of the education and training sessions, Ken Olsen, president, responded to a variety of questions regarding Digital’s desktop products and strategy. The following is a summary of a few of those questions and answers.
Why did we decide to sell personal computers made by Tandy?
We had no justification for designing our own personal computer. There are so many people in the personal computer business already. There’s nothing left for us to contribute in that area, and there are so many other places where we want to contribute. So, we looked for a vendor who makes a very high quality computer and who would be easy to work with and whom we could trust. Tandy meets all our standards.
When we went into the personal computer business ourselves in 1982, we decided to start with the highest quality and eventually lower the price. Tandy, like many others, started off with a low price and increased the quality as customers demanded it. Today Tandy’s quality is at the point where we want it. They have a high quality production capability in Texas, and they need to sell more units. In particular, they do not have a way into the office. Most offices do not want to have a Tandy or Radio Shack on the label in the office, regardless of the quality. So they need us to get legitimacy in the office. We need them because they have the product and the price and quality are right. Together we make a good combination.
How do we deal with customers who are working with clones of Digital’s new RISC workstation?
The processor does not completely define the workstation. There’s a lot more in the design of it than what’s on the chip. The fact that another company uses the same chip from MIPS Computer Systems does not mean their workstation is a clone of ours. If more people use the MIPS chip, it will be easier to transfer software applications from one to another. So we encourage others to use it even though that makes their products in some ways closer to ours. We will win by adding features, having quality, having a better sales, service, software support and education organizations. We will win because of the rest of the products Digital offers: the network and the large computers to back it up and everything you need for doing computing around the world and the whole enterprise.
Are these alliances a significant new trend?
We always have had alliances and always have been dependent on others. Our strategy from the very start of the company was to never build what we can buy. Sometimes we drifted away from that, but we want to use our resources, our energy, enthusiasm and capital to do those things where we can make a unique contribution. When we can buy from someone else, we’ll buy from someone else. If you build something yourself and it costs more than it would if someone else built it, you haven't added value — you've added cost.
We want to continue to use alliances whenever it’s wise. Some of them are particularly good. The alliance that we have with Allen Bradley is a beautiful match. We look forward tn more such alliances
With cost of computing going down, cost of memory going down, cost of disks going down, what happens to our business?
We used to write very concise software that took very little memory, because that was all the memory that was available. Little by little, we’ve gotten enormous memory and enormous computing capabilities. Now we use these capabilities for doing things much more quickly and doing much more complicated things.
I think that trend will go on indefinitely — we’ll need memories with millions and tens of millions of bytes. I think computation speed will go up almost forever, and we’ll find plenty of things to do, because there are so many things that still aren’t done efficiently-
What’s going to happen to us with standards?
Standards are good. The press worries that if everybody has the same products, cost will be the only thing that differentiates them. I don’t think that will happen.
Some computer companies, which have gotten behind in proprietary software, are hoping that a standard Unix-type system will mean they can generate hardware and won’t have to develop a software system. Our point of view is that once you have the standards, that’s just the start of the work.
In our version of Unix, our ULTRIX software, we’re committed to offer the robustness, the quality and the testing that we offer in our VMS software, plus the computer-aided software engineering (CASE) tools and all the other things that make VMS software work. We’re committed to make a Unix software system that you really can trust. That is going to be expensive. It’s going to take time. But it’s going to set us apart from all the other people who don’t have it.
Why are we so interested in standards?
The Open Systems Foundation (OSF) standards include a whole list of things that come after the operating system: the protocols, the human interface, the data base access, the documents and so forth. If everybody meets those standards, they can transfer data around the world, and everybody can work together like we do today with our VAX and VMS products. The many companies that already have a variety of different machines want to get their whole enterprise working together. If we get everybody to use those standards, they’ll probably be able to work together around the world. That is the most important contribution of the OSF standards. The second contribution is to make software easy to transport.
We are interested in Unix because customers want it. We are also interested because it will enable us to take applications written for IBM and other companies and easily transport them to our systems.
Theoretically, if you wrote the software in a language, carefully following all the rules, it should be transportable anywhere. Undisciplined languages and software systems use all kinds of different features that are not common between different versions; and; therefore, nothing is compatible. But if there’s a list of things that you are allowed to use, of calls that you can make on the operating system, then if you follow the standards, it’s easy to make things transportable. We look forward to that day because we want all those applications written for IBM’s and anybody else’s equipment, to work on ours.
Why do we "undermarket" our products?
I don't want to undermarket, but if you assume you have to err on one side or the other, I'd rather err on the side of not promising things. I’d rather be able to deliver more than we promised rather than less. That’s not just being overly honest, (which I want to be), but it’s also good business.
The expensive part of selling is taking care of those customers who are in trouble. Either they did something wrong or we promised more than we can deliver. We want the reputation and the trouble-free life of not promising more than we can deliver.