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-- by Joseph Panettieri
Is Banyan Systems ready to throw in the towel with its struggling Vines network operating system and focus exclusively on Windows NT directory services? NT Enterprise has learned that the truth may be a little of both.
Sources inside Banyan say the Westboro, Mass., company is seriously considering replacing Vines' current UNIX kernel with NT's kernel. The proposed Vines/NT release would be purchased and installed by Banyan resellers as a single product, according to the sources.
The Vines/NT release is not to be confused with Banyan's directory service, StreetTalk for Windows NT (see the feature "Directory Assistance" in this issue). StreetTalk and NT are not available as a package-they must be purchased and installed separately. Also, StreetTalk does not offer Vines' full complement of networking features.
Vines holds a mere 4 percent of the worldwide network operating system market, down from its 15 percent share earlier this decade. A growing list of prominent companies-including Compaq Computer, Merrill Lynch, Nike and Pacific Gas & Electric-are either integrating Windows NT into their existing Vines networks, or migrating entirely to NT Server for its advanced application services. Since Vines' superior networking features make it cheaper to support than NT, according to market research firm Dataquest, the proposed Vines/NT kernel release could offer the best of both worlds.
Still, Banyan officials admit the Vines/NT kernel plan is only under consideration at this time, noting that Microsoft would have to grant the company an NT kernel license.
For its part, Microsoft welcomes Banyan's interest in NT. "[A licensing deal] is definitely something we'd be willing to talk about," said Jeff Price, Product Manager for Windows NT Server at Microsoft. "Of course, the devil is in the details."
Banyan's chances for an NT deal are good, however, as Price noted that several companies, including AT&T, have been granted NT licenses.