In the biggest production launch in its 12-year history, Network Software Associates Inc. on Tuesday introduced five software products for the IBM minicomputer market.
Network Software makes connectivity products--the specialized equipment and software that enable personal computers to "talk" with each other on a network as well as to other minicomputer or mainframe systems.
"It's a major investment that represents years of work," said Earl Jacobs, chairman of Network Software, which employs 90 people.
Network products can connect a personal computer to other PC terminals, printers, fax machines and storage systems. Network Software has historically focused on the market for International Business Machines Corp.'s mainframe networks.
The company's new networking software products are mainly aimed at making personal computers that run Microsoft Windows software capable of exchanging files with IBM's popular AS/400 minicomputer networks.
Cindy Santisario, an analyst at International Data Corp., a market research firm in Framingham, Mass., estimated that Network Software could compete to install its products on more than 400,000 personal computers that are hooked to AS/400 minicomputers, which are centralized computers designed for multiple users in a corporate setting but pack less power than IBM's traditional mainframe computers.
The market potential is expected to grow to 600,000 by 1996, she said.
Seeking to cut costs in the recession, major corporations are forgoing investments in $1-million-plus mainframe computers in favor of less expensive networks of PCs and AS/400 systems, analysts say.
Jacobs said the product introductions double the company's product offering and expand its focus from products for mainframe networks to the growing minicomputer market, where IBM has installed 150,000 AS/400 models.
The company said its new family of Elite/400 products will be available for delivery beginning Oct. 1 at prices ranging from $295 to $3,995.