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NEED TO CONSIDER MORE ECONOMICAL

SOURCES OF SUPPLY FOR COMPONENTS

We have found that in certain instances Federal agencies can achieve significant savings through the use of more economical sources of supply for ADP system components. Rather than relying on procurement of ADP systems from computer systems manufacturers, We believe Federal managers should consider the following:

--Procurement of equivalent plug-to-plug compatible

components.

--Procurement of components that are not plug-to-plug

compatible directly from the original manufacturer.

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--Procurement of components from alternate sources of

supply.

--Competitive procurement of magnetic disk packs.

PROCUREMENT OF EQUIVALENT PLUG-TO-PLUG
COMPATIBLE COMPONENTS

During the past 2 years, certain manufacturers of independent peripheral equipment have emphasized the development and marketing of equivalent plug-to-plug compatible components at prices which can esult in considerable savings to computer users. These components are plug-to-plug compatible in the sense that the computer system manufacturer's component can be unplugged from the computer and immediately replaced with the independent manufacturer's component. (See pp. 16 to 17.) Both components function in the same or similar manner and the computer functions just as though the computer system manufacturer's component is still being utilized. No changes to the computer programming system are necessary.

- During our review, we focused our attention on two types of plug-to-plug compatible components being marketed by manufacturers of independent peripheral equipment as replacements for similar components marketed by a large computer manufacturer. These components were magnetic tape transports (also called tape drives) and disk storage drives.

We found at least three independent companies that were marketing plug-to-plug compatible magnetic tape transports at savings in purchase costs of up to 58 percent below the computer manufacturer's price. Savings in monthly leasing costs would amount to as much as 25 percent. (See p. 20.)

We also found at least three independent companies that were marketing plug-to-plug compatible disk storage drives. These units were being offered at as much as 29 percent below the purchase price of the computer manufacturer's component and 24 percent below the computer manufacturer's monthly leasing price. (See p. 22.)

Although this type of equipment has been generally available since 1967, only a few Government installations have ordered or installed plug-to-plug compatible equipment. Also, we found that in August 1968 the Chief of Naval Material bad directed the Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command, to investigate the feasibility of replacing certain tape drives located at the Ships Parts Control Center in Mechanicsburg, Pa., with plug-to-plug compatible tape drives marketed by peripheral equipment manufacturers. Although the results of the study were not available for our review in March 1969, the directive brought out the following significant factors :

1.

The connectors on the new tape stations and the
present brand X tape stations are identical.
Interfacing with the present brand X computers and
intermixing with present brand X tape stations are
as simple as plugging the new stations into the tape
control unit. No modification of software is required
and present tape reels are freely interchangeable
between the present brand X tape stations and the
new tape stations.

2.

Compared to the second-generation brand X tape stations,
the new third-generation tape stations provide the
advantages of automatic loading, longer possible tape
life, integrated electronic circuitry, fewer parts,
and no mechanical maintenance adjustments.

3.

There are in excess of 500 rented brand X tape stations
connected to brand X computers at activities under the
Naval Material Command. Replacement of all of these
tape stations could result in a considerable rental
savings to the Navy. In addition, replacement of such
a large quantity of tape stations should open the way
to replacement of other rented peripheral components on
the brand X computer systems with completely inter-
changeable and lower cost peripherals now being marketed
by other vendors, such as line printers, page printers,
disk units, removable disk packs, conversational terminals,
and high-speed batch terminals.

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PICTURE ABOVE SHOWS AN EQUIVALENT PLUG-TO-PLUG COMPATIBLE MAGNETIC
TAPE TRANSPORT BEING PLUGGED IN DIRECTLY, USING THE SAME POWER AND
SIGNAL CONNECTORS AFTER THE ORIGINAL MANUFACTURER'S EQUIPMENT WAS
REMOVED FROM THE EDP SYSTEM. THE COMPUTER INTERFACE CIRCUITRY IS
IDENTICAL; PROGRAMS ARE IDENTICAL; TAPE LOADING IS IDENTICAL; DIAGNOS.
TICS FOR PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE ARE IDENTICAL. NO MODIFICATION OF THE
MAIN FRAME OR CONTROLLER IS REQUIRED.

17

To obtain further information on the feasibility and advantages of using plug-to-plug compatible equipment, we visited several private organizations that were using this type of equipment. They reported that they had no serious technical problems with the independent manufacturers' components and that cost savings were significant.

The identity of these organizations and their estimates of savings are shown in the following tabulation. Brief resumes of the experiences of these organizations are included in the appendix.

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--Does not require any hardware or software modification

for interface.

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