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BANYAN VINES was a network operating system developed by Banyan Systems for computers running AT entries in the directory always had the form item@group@organization. This applied to user accounts as well as to resources like printers and file servers .

PROTOCOL STACK

OSI layer VINES Protocol Stack

7 File
File
Services Print Services Street Talk
Talk
(directory service) other Services

6 Remote Procedure Calls (RPC)

5

4 InterProcess Communications (IPC) Datagram Sequenced Packet Protocol (SPP) Stream

3 VINES Internetwork Protocol (VIP) Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) Routing
Routing
Table Protocol (RTP) Internet
Internet
Control Protocol (ICP)

2 Media Access Protocols: HDLC , X.25
X.25
, Token ring
Token ring
, Ethernet
Ethernet

1

VINES CLIENT SOFTWARE

VINES client-software ran on most PC-based operating systems, including MS-DOS
MS-DOS
and earlier versions of Microsoft
Microsoft
Windows . It was fairly light-weight on the client, and hence remained in use during the later half of the 1990s on many older machines that couldn't run other networking stacks then in widespread use. This occurred on the server side as well, as VINES generally offered good performance, even from mediocre hardware.

INITIAL MARKET RELEASE

With StreetTalk's inherent low bandwidth requirements, global companies and governments that grasped the advantages of worldwide directory services seamlessly spanning multiple time zones recognized VINE's technological edge. Users included gas and oil companies, power companies, public utilities—and U.S. Government agencies including the State Department, Treasury Department, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Defense.

The U.S. State Department, for example, was an early adopter of the VINES technology. Able to take advantage of the then high-speed 56k modems for telephonic connectivity of the developed world to the limited telephone modem speeds of 300 baud over bad analog telephone systems in the Third World
Third World
, VINES was able to link embassies around the world. VINES also came with built-in point-to-point and group chat capability that was useful for basic communication over secure lines.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT ADOPTION

By the late 1980s the US Marine Corps
US Marine Corps
was searching for simple, off-the-shelf worldwide network connectivity with rich built-in email, file, and print features. By 1988 the Marine Corps had standardized on VINES as both its garrison (base) and forward-deployed ground-based battlefield email-centric network operating system.

Using both ground-based secure radio channels and satellite and military tactical phone switches, the Marine Corps was ready for its first big test of VINES: the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Units were able to seamlessly coordinate ground, naval, and air strikes across military boundaries by using the chat function to pass target lists and adjust naval gun fire on the fly. Ground fire support coordination agencies used VINES up and down command channels—from Battalion-to-Regiment through Division-to-Corps and Squadron-to-Group to Aircraft Wing-to-Corps, as well as in peer-to-peer unit communication.

VINES COMPETITORS

For a decade, Banyan's OS competitors, Novell and Microsoft, dismissed the utility of directory services . Consequently, VINES dominated what came to be called the "directory services" space from 1985 to 1995. While seeming to ignore VINES, Novell and eventually Microsoft—companies with a flat server or domain-based network model—came to realize the strategic value of directory services. With little warning, Novell went from playing down the value of directory services to announcing its own: NetWare Directory Services (NDS). Eventually, Novell changed NDS to mean Novell Directory Services, and then renamed that to eDirectory.

Microsoft
Microsoft
had gone through its own round of operating system development. Initially, they partnered with IBM to develop an Intel-based disk operating system called PC DOS
PC DOS
, and its Microsoft twin, MS-DOS
MS-DOS
. Eventually, Microsoft
Microsoft
shared true network operating system development with IBM LAN
LAN
Manager and its Microsoft
Microsoft
twin, Microsoft
Microsoft
LAN
LAN
Manager . Microsoft
Microsoft
parted company with IBM and continued developing LAN
LAN
Manager into what became Windows NT . Essentially, its OS 4.0. NT was originally a flat server or domain-based operating system with none of the advantages of VINES or NDS.

For Windows NT 5.0 (released as Windows 2000 ) however, Microsoft included Active Directory
Active Directory
, an LDAP directory service based on the directory from its Exchange mail server. Active Directory
Active Directory
was as robust as and, in several key ways, superior to VINES. While VINES was limited to a three-part name, user.company.org, like Novell's NDS structure, Active Directory
Active Directory
was not bound by such a naming convention. Active Directory
Active Directory
had developed an additional capability that both NDS and VINES lacked, its "forest and trees" organizational model. The combination of better architecture and a marketing company the size of Microsoft
Microsoft
doomed StreetTalk, VINES as an OS, and finally Banyan itself.

DECLINE

By the late 1990s, VINES' once-touted Street Talk
Talk
Services' non-flat, non-domain model with its built-in messaging, efficiency and onetime performance edge had lost ground to newer technology. Banyan was unable to market its product far beyond its initial base of multi-national and government entities.

Because Banyan could not quickly develop an OS to take advantage of newer hardware, and apparently did not understand that the StreetTalk directory services, not the shrink-wrapped OS, was the prime value added—the company lost ground in the networking market. VINES sales rapidly dried up, both because of these problems and because of the rapid rise of Windows NT . Banyan increasingly turned to Street Talk
Talk
as a differentiator, eventually porting it to NT as a stand-alone product and offering it as an interface to LDAP systems.

Also, Banyan continued to operate a closed OS. This required hardware manufacturers to submit hardware and driver requirements so that Banyan could write drivers for each peripheral. When more open systems with published APIs began to appear, Banyan did not alter their model. This made it difficult for client-side support to handle the explosive growth in, for example, printers. As competitors began to adopt some of VINES' outstanding wide area networking protocols and services, manufacturers were less inclined to send a unit to Banyan for VINES specific drivers when competitors let them write their own.

Dropping the Banyan brand for ePresence in 1999, as a general Internet
Internet
services company, the firm sold its services division to Unisys
Unisys
in late 2003 and liquidated its remaining holdings in its Switchboard.com subsidiary.

VERSION HISTORY

* 1984: Banyan VINES 1.0 * 1989: Banyan VINES 2.1 * 1990: Banyan VINES 3.0 * 1991: Banyan VINES 4.11 * 1992: Banyan VINES 5.0 * 1994: