Q: What product does Visuality Systems provide?
A: Visuality Systems provides VisualityNQ (network quick), a CIFS file sharing middleware protocol for embedded real time operating systems. Using VisualityNQ, embedded devices based on VxWorks, Windows CE, Linux and other RTOS can be quickly connected to Windows centric networks while providing full file sharing capabilities.
Q: What are the benefits of using file-sharing protocols in embedded device networks?
A: File sharing enables multiple devices to remotely browse each other's shared folders and to read, write, edit, copy, delete and update each other's files… all operations being done without the need to transfer information to the device's local disk or memory. Using file sharing, embedded devices are able to reduce precious and costly storage space requirements as well as speed up response by eliminating the time needed to transfer files. File sharing also enables multiple devices to access and update the same file while preventing conflicts with sophisticated file-sharing and locking semantics. These mechanisms also permit aggressive caching and read-ahead/write-behind without loss of cache coherency. CIFS also supports fault tolerance in the face of network and server failures. All of the above are fundamental requirement for embedded device networks.
Q: VisualityNQ features automatic device appearance under "My Network Places". What benefits does this feature provide to the end user?
A: NQ implements the Browser Host Announcement mechanism, which allows devices to automatically appear on any PC in the form of icons under "My Network Places" (or "Network Neighborhood"). Users are not required to perform complex installation procedures, configurations or driver installations when setting up and connecting devices to the network. For any end user familiar with the Windows environment, working with "My Network Places" is simple and intuitive thus making the embedded device application easier to install and deploy.
Q: What is CIFS?
A: CIFS Common Internet File System (formerly SMB) is the file sharing protocol used by Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000 and ME operating systems to share files and printers across the network.
Q: What is NFS?
A: Similar to CIFS, NFS (Network File System) is the file sharing protocol which is used in Unix based platforms to share files across the network.
Q: Why use CIFS protocol with embedded devices?
A: Windows is by far the dominant operating system today accounting for over 90% of computers worldwide. As the embedded systems market and applications expand, so does the need to provide file-sharing connectivity with Windows based networks. And since CIFS is the native file sharing protocol and the basis for all Windows networks, it is the natural choice.
Q: Visuality Systems NQ product line offers developers full CIFS file-sharing capabilities for their embedded devices. Aren't there other file sharing solutions now available for embedded systems?
A: There are several other file-sharing solutions for embedded systems available today, none of which can provide proper CIFS support. For example, the leading RTOS VxWorks only offers an NFS implementation making it impossible to share files in a Windows networking environment. Windows CE, as expected, does include a CIFS protocol support. However, unlike with its "bigger brothers", CIFS implementation in CE is limited to client operation only rendering it useless for file sharing support. Another example is Embedded Linux, which can use Samba as a means to provide CIFS file sharing. Although Samba is an available working solution, its large memory footprint and lack of support make a non-viable solution. In short, VisualityNQ is the only product available today to provide a complete embedded CIFS solution regardless of the RTOS employed.
Q: Why use CIFS when HTTP and FTP are also available?
A: HTTP and FTP can be used for file transfer between devices however; they are not capable of providing file-sharing functionalities. In contrast, CIFS protocol supports remote file sharing access thus enabling groups of embedded devices to work together and share documents across any network. Using CIFS file sharing instead of HTTP and FTP file transfer eliminates the need to transfer files between devices, which in turn reduces the need for expensive storage space and speeds up overall response time.
Q: What about Samba?
A: Samba is a simple network file system available for Unix platforms to provide connectivity with Windows SMB, CIFS former native file-sharing protocol. Samba is publicly owned and requires considerable porting efforts to other RTOS such as VxWorks and Windows CE. In addition to its large memory footprint, as a public product, porting it requires code disclosure on the part of the developer, which often eliminates it from consideration for embedded devices.