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USENIX Technical Program - Abstract - 13th Systems Administration Conference - LISA '99

Automated Client-side Integration of Distributed Application Servers

Conrad E. Kimball, Vincent D. Skahan, Jr., David J. Kasik, The Boeing Company


From the Single Glass Program Plan, dated August 18, 1997: Vision: Provide BCAG users access to all applications and data needed to perform their respective jobs from a single desktop environment with acceptable levels of function, performance, and reliability.

The Single Glass program in the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group (BCAG) provides Engineering UNIX users the ability to access all required UNIX and PC applications and associated data via a standardized Common Desktop Environment (CDE) desktop.

The goal is to do this with enough performance, reliability, and transparency so that each engineer only needs one computer (i.e., a "Single piece of Glass") on their desk, thereby reducing the number of desktop devices required per engineer. There is an additional process benefit by increasing the amount of concurrent design and analysis possible.

The Single Glass desktop provides unified access to over 350 locally executed applications previously provided in a number of separate legacy environments from the shell and also within a common CDE look-and-feel developed through formal usability studies done in Seattle and Wichita. Currently running on over 5000 IBM RS6000 workstations worldwide for over 6000 users, Single Glass is designed to support IBM, HP, Sun, and SGI UNIX and NT workstations.

This paper describes some of the design decisions and project constraints that led Single Glass to decide to deliver a unified logical namespace to the clients that spans multiple physical servers. This was accomplished by automating creation of the required symbolic links to the many distributed file servers rather than simply building one monolithic "union of all the supplier trees".

This implementation has been proven to work consistently on AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, and Linux platforms.

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Last changed: 13 Feb 2002 ml
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