Virtual OS/2 International Consumer Education

February 1999

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By: Kim Cheung -


WiseManager(TM) is a utility package for managing diskless PCs. All the PCs boot from the server and operate under Warp 4 - using the same applications as they do in regular OS/2. Most OS/2, Windows 3.1, DOS, and Java applications can run without any modifications to the base package.

WiseManager(TM) utilizes IBM's RIPL (Remote IPL) technology which is built into every copy of Warp Server Advance, Warp Server SMP, and even Warp Server Entry. You don't need IBM's WSOD to use WiseManager(TM) - just standard Warp Server: although WiseManager(TM) can complement WSOD's functionality and both can run on the same system.

The OS/2 RIPL technology has been used by many of IBM's enterprise and bank customers for years - and some of them will continue to use it for years to come because they are not convinced that WSOD and Java are the way to move forward to Network Computing. However, the traditional RIPL facility is ungodly complicated and almost impossible to get working properly by the average OS/2 shop - WiseManager(TM) changes that. What WiseManager(TM) offers is a set of tools which builds an infrastructure in such a way that makes it feasible for the "smaller" companies to benefit from this wonderful technology. In addition, the traditional RIPL facility provides very primitive facilities to address the issue of application deployment in a diskless environment. WiseManager(TM) fills that hole as well.

The issue of centralized management of PCs is not about saving the cost of hard drives - it's about regaining control from the chaos and help reducing the cost of ownership for these wonderful beasts. With WiseManager(TM), getting OS/2 up and ready to run on a new PC takes only 20+ seconds - yes, 20+ seconds: not the hours (and sometimes days) that we're accustom to. In addition, deploying applications to the desktop is a simple matter of dragging and dropping an ICON onto that machine from the manager's station. For example, getting StarOffice 5.0 up and running on all of the PCs in your organization only takes a few mouse drag and drop from the manager's desktop! There's even a group application dropping option that can drop sets of applications to groups of PCs.

WiseManager(TM) goes beyond OS/2 installation and application deployment. It also addresses the issue of disaster recovery and desktop maintenance. All of the PC's configuration and settings are centrally maintained. In case of a corrupted desktop, simply delete the machine from WiseManager(TM) and rebuilt the machine - WiseManager(TM) is smart enough to retain important user and configuration files throughout the rebuild process. In case of a hardware failure, simply replace the machine and change the network address from the manager's station. In both cases, you can be up and running in minutes. In addition, since there is no hard drive on the desktop PCs, the desktop users have no need to perform any backup - that's done at the server.

WiseManager(TM) encourages the use of simple form factor PCs - although you can still use traditional PCs. For instance, the NLX specification is an all-in-one form factor spec. which allows PC manufacturers to come up with booksize computers. For most applications, all you will add in these mini-PCs would be a CD-ROM, and maybe a floppy drive. Most of these NLX machines have built-in network cards, video, and so forth. Some even comes with built-in sound chips.

Managed Client(TM) Computing is not about taking control away from the desktop user. It's not about intrusion into the personal space of a corporate PC user. It's not about shoving Java down the throat to your customer. It's all about reducing the cost of support for these users in such a way as to encourage them to be innovative and productive with their PCs.

WiseManager(TM) in use

The first roll out for WiseManager(TM) involves a small business with 12 workstations. They have been running OS/2 on the desktop, an RS6000 running a vertical application, 10BaseT Ethernet network, native OS/2 voice mail and PC based PBX.

Over the last 3+ years, this customer rarely call for support - this is pretty amazing considering that they have no in-house computer skill - just a bunch of non-computer savvy workers. OS/2 (CONNECT) just ran and ran - along with Faxworks network, RelishNet, Object Desktop, BackupWiz - all native OS/2 applications. The only Microsoft application they run is the Win3.1 version of Office because we simply couldn't justify putting them through the insult of using SmartSuite for OS/2. They make their money on swimware - and don't want to waste it on computers.

Now because of the Y2K concern, they decided to upgrade their Peer to Peer network to the Managed Client(TM) Computing model. We will be putting in a server with a backup server running Warp Server Advanced. We will replace all of the 486 machines with booksize NLX machines running diskless (actually we might use their old hard drives as swapper drives). With WiseManager(TM), all 12 stations can be managed from one station (or over the modem) - yet everybody can keep their own individual desktop and continue to run Merlin on their desktop - RIPL booting from the server.

There is debate whether we will use a Netfinity server. The present feeling is that we don't trust IBM's OS/2 hardware support and we might use a white box, or Compaq server.

We will also upgrade all of their OS/2 software, plus we will put Star Office 5.0 for OS/2 in there - hopefully displacing the M$ junk.

The only unfortunate thing is their ADP and Factoring software supplier refuses to supply a DOS version of their software that's Y2K ready. They will only do W95. So, we will have one W95 machine and run NetOp or RSM to access the machine over the network.

This is the kind of customer IBM said would be wrong to use OS/2. Yet, they've been very happy for the last 3 years and they will be even happier once we are done upgrading them to the Managed Client(TM) model.

For OS/2 ISVs, WiseManager(TM) offer them an opportunity to leverage the investment they already made with OS/2 and a foot into the door in an emerging Network Computing market. They don't need to invest the millions IBM wants them to spend in rewriting all their applications in Java. Most well packaged OS/2 native programs can fit into the Managed Client(TM) computing model fairly easily - using the tools we provide.

For consultants, VARs, and computer resellers with OS/2 skills, WiseManager(TM) offer them an opportunity to leverage their hard learned skill and help move their customers away from the pain and suffering of what M$ technology is doing to them. The Managed Client(TM) Computing model encourages outsourcing IT expenses into service dollars. This is about reducing headache and about happy customers.

Regarding the issue of native OS/2 applications, we are actively seeking and forming business relationships with OS/2 ISVs to promote their products in the Managed Client(TM) Computing environment. Our goal is to have sufficient business applications ready out-of-the-box whereby System Administrators, consultants, or VARs can just deploy with a single drag-and-drop mouse action. We already have business relationships with a number of the leading OS/2 ISVs - we expect a lot more to come as we progress. We believe existing OS/2 applications will serve the computing needs of 80% of business workers. The rest of the 20% can still be a traditional W95 machine acting as network citizens in this model.

For more information on WiseManager(TM) and Managed Client(TM) Computing, please visit our web site at

Kim Cheung

Marketing Director, TouchVoice Corporation,
(626)288-7774x211 (voice) (626)572-8567 (fax)

Executive Director, Serenity Systems International,

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