VINES Architecture Definition
Chapter 1 - Introduction to the VINES Network Operating System
What Is VINES?
VINES (Virtual Networking System) is a Network Operating System (NOS) that connects heterogeneous workstations to networked resources such as disks, printers, minicomputers, mainframes, and application programs. VINES supports both Local Area Networks (LANs) and Wide Area Networks (WANs).
VINES is a unique NOS in that it is service-based as opposed to server-based:
Server-based networks require users to log in to a specific server and provide them access only to resources and services that reside on that server. Service-based networks let users log in to the entire network through a single server which provides them with access to all network resources and services.
VINES consists of software that resides on network servers, third-party routers, and network workstations. This software supports a variety of communications technologies that merge resources across a network into an integrated environment. This environment appears to extend from each individual workstation.
The server or system software is the essential element that provides VINES resource sharing and connectivity to workstation users. VINES server software runs on a variety of hardware platforms, as described in "VINES Hardware Support" later in this chapter.
The workstation software interprets and redirects requests for network resources from the workstation out onto the network.
Physically, a VINES network includes VINES servers, workstations, and communications hardware. The VINES servers can connect physically to one another, to minicomputers, and to mainframe computers. Third-party routers route VINES traffic through non-VINES networks. Workstations usually connect to servers over LANs or WANs, but can also dial in to the network over standard phone lines.
System Software Features
VINES includes many features that are important to end users, system administrators, and applications developers. Architecturally, the major features of VINES are as follows:
A layered network architecture that supports present and future industry standards A sophisticated suite of communications protocols that integrate multiple technologies and interface easily with other protocols A global naming system, StreetTalk, implemented as a distributed network application A simple, consistent, and powerful set of design rules and interfaces, independent of network hardware and size, that provide a model for building distributed applications
VINES software combines distributed networking features with industry standard operating systems, providing an environment for developing distributed applications within those systems. For example, standard VINES products use an optimized version of UNIX 18.104.22.168. This version of UNIX lets the developer work in a high-performance multiprocessing environment on the server and supports portability among computing platforms.
The system software on a VINES server includes the following major components:
Drivers for a variety of physical devices, including serial communications cards, LAN cards, tape drives, and disk drives. Communication programs transport data among these dissimilar hardware components. Services for naming, sharing, and managing resources in the server and on the network. Resources include server disk space, network printers, and terminal emulation over serial communications lines. Tools for developing distributed applications under standard operating systems on both the server and workstations. The development environment includes VINES libraries, utility programs, sample programs, and other tools useful for development in the VINES environment.
Workstation Software Features
To the end user at a networked workstation, VINES presents a complex multivendor network as a simple single-vendor network, and network resources as transparent extensions of local workstation resources.
VINES networks support workstations which use DOS, OS/2, Microsoft Windows, and Macintosh operating systems. VINES software provides network workstations with the following features:
Shared physical resources such as disk space, printers, communication lines, and modems Shared logical resources such as files and applications User access to all resources on the network, regardless of the intervening LAN or WAN communications technology Menu-driven system administration and management of users, hardware, applications, and files through the use of the StreetTalk naming system Integrated, easy-to-use gateways to minicomputers and mainframes that do not require dedicated computing hardware Comprehensive security, comparable with mainframe systems
Each network resource, such as a shared file volume or a terminal emulation service, has a unique StreetTalk name within the network. Users access resources by name and do not need to know the physical location of the resource. If a resource is moved or replaced by another, the user can still locate it by name.
VINES workstation software consists of the following major components:
Drivers provide users with network access and communication through LAN cards and serial ports. Resident programs support basic services such as file sharing, printer sharing, and network message notification. VINES client applications communicate with VINES services. VINES client applications support access to services such as StreetTalk Directory Assistance and management of the individual user's network computing environment. They also support a full range of features to manage users and network resources. Tools for developing third-party applications. Some VINES applications include resident programs whose features are accessible by third-party applications through a VINES software interrupt.
VINES provides a standard management interface at the server console and the workstation to administer equipment and human resources anywhere on the network. VINES also includes diagnostic programs to identify hardware problems at the server or workstation, and network management software to monitor and evaluate the performance of server software.
StreetTalk controls the naming of resources, and distribution and maintenance of names to servers throughout the network. There is no central naming server whose absence would limit the network's ability to function. You can relocate or replace resources without direct impact on the user.
VINES security is configurable. Security restrictions can range from extremely strict to nearly nonexistent, depending on the requirements of a particular site or resource within a site. For example, access to one set of network files can be granted to all users, while a second set of files is accessible to only one user. Similarly, you can prevent one or more users from dialing in to the network, yet allow other users that privilege. You can also control the exchange of information between interconnected remote servers.
No super user or global administrator can override system security. Instead, distributed StreetTalk lists throughout the network control who can administer individual servers or groups of users and resources. You use StreetTalk lists to distribute or centralize network management according to site-specific needs.
VINES servers are not inherently limited or dedicated to meet specific connectivity needs. You freely decide what combination of communications and other functions each server provides, based on physical location, security, load balancing, and other concerns.
For example, one server can provide printer and file sharing as well as communications between workstations, servers, mainframes, and minicomputers at both local and remote sites. Alternatively, that same server can be dedicated to a particular function, such as printer sharing, if that scheme provides a more balanced workload within the context of your entire network.
VINES Hardware Support
A VINES server can be a computer manufactured by any of several vendors. VINES currently spans computer architectures that include EISA, ISA, and Micro Channel buses.
Typically, a server connects to workstations on a LAN and to other servers by a LAN, WAN, or both. Supported LAN topologies includes IBM Token-Ring and PC Network, Ethernet, StarLANTM, ProNET, ARCNET, and many others.
WAN support includes standard serial communications protocols, such as X.25 and HDLC, in addition to VINES protocols. Gateway connectivity includes the IBM SNA and BSC environments, and computers that support asynchronous terminals. VINES supports the Banyan ICA serial communications adapter and several industry standard serial communications interface cards, using dial lines, leased lines, and direct lines.
Internally, the server supports shared disks for storing programs and data. All servers support a tape drive for backup and restore, either internally as standard equipment or as an external option. Parallel or serial printers attached to the server or network workstation can be shared by all network users.
A typical workstation on a VINES network is a 386-based machine or Macintosh computer. A compatible LAN card must be installed in each workstation. Workstations can also dial in to the network.