OSTA Projects

OSTA is a technology and management consulting firm specializing in Open Systems, Client/Server, and Internet/Intranet computing. Dr. Heinz Lycklama is the founder of, and the principal computer consultant with OSTA . Over the past six years, we have performed projects for clients in the areas of Strategic Planning, Technology Trends, Competitive Analysis, Software Architecture, Product Analysis , Product Planning, Training Courses, Technical Writing, Seminars, and Expert Witness. The following projects are representative of OSTA capabilities.

Strategic Planning

UNIX Strategy Assessment

– We assessed the UNIX strategy of a telecommunications company. This involved understanding the company’s current plans for, and making recommendations for, the use of desktop systems (Windows NT vs. UnixWare), the use of mid-range servers (UNIX vs. NetWare vs. Windows NT), migrating to client/server computing, and the use of middleware alternatives (RPC vs. message queuing and distributed transaction processing). Plans for the use of distributed systems and distributed relational databases were also addressed. We provided comments on the validity of the company’s strategy elements and recommended policies to be established in certain key technology areas for the next three years.

Assessment of IT Directions

– We assessed the plans of a large end user to use knowledge-based applications to provide the client’s consultants with a competitive advantage in sharing information in a distributed and global environment. We examined the elements of the technical solution which involved the use of Lotus Notes, replicated data, directory services and security services, and made recommendations on how to enhance the distributed applications for greater benefit.

Tecommunications and the Internet

– We made recommendations on how a service provider in the telecommunications industry could use the Internet to enhance the services that it provides to its customer base. This included using the Internet to access existing services, using the Internet as a transmissions vehicle, and integrating the new generation of “smart phones” and “network computers” into their service offerings.

Technology Trends

Vision 2000 – A 25 page position paper on “The Use of Information For Competitive Advantage” was prepared for UNIX International, with the central theme as follows: “Advances in semiconductor technology, computers, communications, and human interface technology over the next decade will enable computers to become pervasive. This hardware capability will enable powerful distributed systems software, which will in turn enable new applications and new markets. A software revolution, namely a move to object oriented programming techniques, will be required to take advantage of this computing capability. The wide availability of inexpensive powerful computers with easy-to-use human interfaces, and high- bandwidth networks will make it possible for the user to solve more complex problems, and gain timely access to information in a transparent and global manner. The user who leverages this technology will have a real competitive advantage. We examine the computing environment of the future, how it can be achieved, and what the computing industry will do to realize this vision.”

Information Technology Trends – A one-day session on trends in information technology over the next decade was prepared and delivered. The topics covered included computers, client/server computing, Information Technology (IT) architecture, and standards. As part of this wide ranging discussion on information technology, we looked at overall IT architecture frameworks used by key technology leaders, the role these frameworks would play in using IT for competitive advantage, how standards (both de jure and de facto) drive IT markets, and the organizations which drive these standards. We examined what it takes to be successful at setting successful IT standards and provided a list of who we thought some of the winners would be over the next ten years.

Competitive Analysis

Systems Management Tools – There are more than one dozen major systems management tools and hundreds of point solutions for the UNIX and Windows NT computing platforms. We have done a comparative analysis of the top products in this market to determine the relative strengths and weaknesses of these products. These include Microsoft SMS, BMC Patrol, CompuWare EcoTools, Computer Associates UniCenter, Tivoli TME 10, Candle Command Center, and others.

UnixWare vs. SCO OpenServer – We evaluated the key features of SCO OpenServer and the equivalent features of UnixWare. The technical comparison of the two products was conducted by installing both products on a Pentium based computer and analyzing the key technical features of each.

Windows NT vs. NetWare – We analyzed Microsoft’s enterprise operating system strategy, focusing on the upcoming Microsoft operating system releases – Windows NT 4.0 and Cairo – and related technologies. We analyzed Microsoft’s Enterprise strategy, particularly as it impacts Novell’s market for network services offered both on NetWare and UnixWare. We identified holes in Microsoft’s strategy and opportunities for NetWare and related technologies.

BackOffice Directions – A competitive analysis was done on the directions of the Microsoft BackOffice product, particularly as it related to the Internet. The degree of integration, current and planned, of the various components of BackOffice with the Internet was analyzed.

Software Architecture

Distributed Application Architecture – The software architecture of a new distributed product was designed for a telecommunications company introducing a next generation network-based application. The application runs in a distributed computing environment on a variety of computing platforms. Various technologies such as distributed middleware, fault-tolerant software, real-time databases, Internet software, and other systems software components were evaluated to make the architecture recommendations.

Network-Attached File Server – The design of a high performance file server providing NFS file services to a network of client UNIX workstations and PCs was reviewed. Recommendations were made to improve the design and add file services such as transparent file migration, backup/restore, archive/retrieval, replication and mirroring. An analysis of similar services provided in the industry was undertaken to determine the set of features to be provided by the file server in order to provide a competitive product.

Product Analysis

Usability and Integration Analysis of Microsoft BackOffice – We installed and analyzed all major components of Microsoft BackOffice – Windows NT Server, Internet Information Server, SQL Server, Exchange Server, SNA Server and SMS Server – to determine the level of integration between the various product components. The installation methodology, the common look and feel, common directory and security services, common system management and common documentation were examined and analyzed. Industry bundling practices were also analyzed as part of this study.

Interoperability Analysis – We analyzed the systems design of an open systems environment that co-exists with and interoperates with the proprietary operating system environment offered by a major computer vendor. The areas of interoperability that were analyzed included the kernel, file system, security, internationalization, C runtime, compilation tools, command interpreters, and user utilities. Each area was assessed for completeness of interoperability between the two operating environments, and recommendations were made for how interoperability could be improved. Key missing features were identified and design changes were recommended for improving interoperability. Key long term product features were also identified.

Product Planning

Real-Time Operating System – Requirements were determined for a real-time operating system, and associated development tools, for a custom-designed embedded computer system. These requirements were used to select from the state-of-the-art real-time operating systems such as VxWorks from WindRiver, VRTX from MicroTec, and pSOS from Integrated Systems. Industry-beating licensing fees were negotiated with the selected supplier.

Binary Packaged Products on Intel-based Micro Kernel – An analysis was performed to address the business, marketing and technical issues associated with producing a shrink-wrapped product for the Intel market based on the Chorus micro kernel. Technical issues concerning bootstrapping, installation, kernel configuration, file system support, device drivers, and systems management were addressed in detail. Compatibility with the installed base was a major consideration. Distribution, ISV/IHV, training, product packaging, documentation and support issues were also addressed.

OSF/1-Based Binary Packaged Product on Intel Processors – An analysis was performed to investigate the technical issues associated with producing a binary packaged product for the Intel market based on the OSF/1 kernel. Technical issues concerning bootstrapping, installation, kernel configuration, device drivers, system management, and compatibility with existing standards in the Intel market were analyzed and documented, with recommendations made as appropriate.

Universal UNIX API – Consulting services were provided to the early participants (IBM, HP, USL, OSF, Sun) in the COSE applications portability project.

Training Courses

Portability Workshop – We developed and conducted a three-day “hands-on” workshop on procedures and guidelines to be followed in porting UNIX applications to a vendor’s open systems environment from other UNIX environments. This involved the preparation of material that describes the open systems environment being ported to, the role and use of relevant standards such as POSIX, ANSI C and XPG4, and guidelines for writing portable applications. Numerous programming examples were developed to demonstrate the use of standard open systems features and the use of the vendor’s extensions to enhance functionality and performance.

Systems/Network Administration Course – A two-week hands-on training course was developed and given to train systems support engineers on all aspects of managing a distributed system of UNIX workstations using a high-performance mainframe file server based on OSF/1. Network administration topics such as TCP/IP, DNS, NFS, and NIS were covered in detail.

Open Systems Market Course – We developed and presented a two-day course on the fundamentals of Open Systems standards and technologies. This course was given on numerous occasions to train sales and support engineers on the Open Systems market and prepare them for the introduction of a new Open Systems product by the computer manufacturer.

Technical Writing

Porting Guide – A Porting Guide (~200 pages) was outlined and many of the important chapters of the Guide were written to describe the issues and procedures surrounding the porting of UNIX applications to a vendor’s Open Computing platform.

InDepth Technical Document on UnixWare 2.0 – A detailed technical document (~150 pages) was written describing all of the major features of the product. Topics included basic operating system services, installation and configuration, administration, Veritas On-line Data Manager, network services, NetWare integration, advanced development support, UnixWare desktop, and applications support.


Client/Server Implementation Seminar – A seminar was developed on the technologies, tools and techniques for developing distributed applications for the computing enterprise. The background on distributed computing environments, and the why/what/how of client/server computing are covered. The successful implementation of mission-critical distributed applications requires the use of tools that hide the complexity of the user interface, the network details, and the interface to data base systems. The seminar has been given in conjunction with Open Systems conferences.

Open Systems Standards Seminar – We have developed and presented a seminar on Open Systems standards relevant to the implementation of Open Systems solutions in today’s corporate computing enterprise, and the organizations (formal standards bodies, vendor consortia, and user groups) that are influencing the development of these standards. The POSIX Open Systems environment, related standards, conformance testing and procurement procedures are examined in detail. This one-day seminar has been given in Milan, in Singapore, at the Xhibition conference, at FedUNIX, at the UniForum Conference, and at various corporate sites.

Seminar on “Open Systems – An Opportunity for ISVs” -A seminar was produced and delivered to ISVs to convince them that Open Systems provide an opportunity to market their products on a larger number of platforms. The business case for Open Systems as well as the computing/technology trends were covered to prepare the ISVs for exploiting Open Systems opportunities.

Expert Witness

Expert Witness in Government Award Protest – We represented the protesting party in a multi-million dollar award by the U.S. Coast Guard to Unisys for computers running the Windows NT operating system. The major protest issue that was analyzed, and on which an expert opinion was given, was that of POSIX compliance. Dr. Lycklama was also admitted as an expert in operating systems in this case.

Expert Witness in Systems Liability Case – An analysis was performed to determine whether the product development procedures used by a vendor met industry standards, and whether the operating system used by a customer was responsible for problems perceived by the customer.

Expert Witness in Software Maintenance Contract Dispute Case – We represented the defendant in a dispute in which the plaintiff claimed that all of its business data was lost as a result of actions taken by the computer vendor. Forensic software analysis techniques were used to determine whether the business data was appropriately recovered.

More on Expert Witness Services … .

Clients – Consulting services have been provided to AccessLine Technologies, A.T. Kearney, Australian Telecom, C3, Chorus, DEC, Dickstein Shapiro and Morin, Hitachi Data Systems, Institute for Advanced Professional Studies, INTERACTIVE Systems Corporation, Irell and Manella, Kellogg, Kinkos, Kodak, Lachman Technology Inc., Locus, Motorola, MTI, NCR, Novell, Open Software Foundation, Perkins Coie, SCO, System Integration Solutions, Systemhouse Ltd., Tandem, UNIX International, WAVTrace, and others.

Contact Information:

Dr. Heinz Lycklama
Open Systems Technology Associates
17818 Oxford Dr.
Arlington, WA 98223

Office: 360-403-7445
Cell: 425-501-5075
email: heinz@osta.com

URL: OSTA Home Page

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