GENWiki

Premier IT Outsourcing and Support Services within the UK

User Tools

Site Tools


heritage

Global Enterprise Networks

(GEN), has a rich heritage in the field of Information Technology, marked by several pioneering milestones and innovations. Established in 1989 by Richard Taylor (Alpha), Ross Clarke (HP) and Steve Smedley (DEC), GEN has been integral to the evolution of the internet and IT services in the UK, and is the longest established UK Business ISP. Here's an expanded look at their heritage:

The Early Years (Pre-Internet Era)

Before the advent of the internet, GEN specialized in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) over X.400 and X.25 with leased circuits. They supported mainframes and mini-computers, such as AlphaMicro, IBM, Prime, HP etc. This period was characterized by technologies that now seem antiquated, like the use of VHS tapes for backup solutions and RS232 terminals. Whilst many of these systems were based loosely on Unix, their various flavours and technologies made interoperability tricky and GEN provided middleware together with interconnectivity allowing cross platform messaging and data interchange.

Introduction to the Internet

GEN witnessed and contributed to the early stages of the internet. They provided one of the first commercial dial-up Internet services, transitioning from older forms of online communication like X25, X400 and Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). Their initial BBS system operated with 4 Pace Nightingale modems connected to an IBM 5150, indicative of the technology of the time.

Innovations in Connectivity

In the early 90s, GEN launched GENMail, blending X.400, FidoMail and SMTP messaging. This was a significant step in bringing businesses online and popularizing email with entry level services provided free of charge to small businesses. They also played a role in expanding internet connectivity, exclusively offering services like toll-free dial-up and 64/128k ISDN internet access long before BTWholesale, even pioneering cellular modem access via BT Cellnet in concert with BT.

Early Web Hosting

GEN's first website hosting platform was based on DEC AlphaServers and hosted http/1 and served very early html and sgml. GEN introduced early Microsoft hosting based on Windows NT and HP LH4 Servers a couple of years later. For a short time an OS2 Warp web server was in operation in co-operation with IBM, but this was short lived.

Dial-up Internet

As Dial-up exploded, GEN sourced Hayes Century R/RAS platform for high density connectivity. Each Rack would support 1 E1 circuit and 30 channels (30 analogue dial-in or 15 ISDN2 Bonded Dial in), and GEN had 8 of these allowing for 240 simultaneous connections initially, but as market exploded this was increased up to 80 units in total making GEN the largest operator of Hayes Century products in the world.

GEN was the first, and only company to offer ISDN2 bonded circuits for aggregating bandwidth over digital dial-up, each channel was 64K, and each NTU could bond two channels to give 128k, and the 'Gateway' service, aptly named 'Office Gateway' or OG could handle up to 8 ISDN2 devices, giving a maximum of 512k. The software on the gateway, which ran Windows NT was able to measure network demand and bring up more circuits as needed.

When GEN introduced toll-free Dial-in on the Diamond Cable network, customers could keep channels up 24/7 at no cost and this was a year before toll-free dial-up in the UK.

By the time BTWholesale Dial-up became a 'thing' businesses needed more bandwidth than 56k or 64k or even 512k and at the time the cost of private circuits was becoming far more sensible. GEN partnered with BT.net to deliver these fast (relatively at the time) connections from 64k up to 2Mb, leaving the 10Mb and higher at a significant premium for the few who could afford the rental.

Cloud Computing and Data Storage:

GEN was an early adopter of cloud computing. Their first cloud-based data storage solution, GEN Central Storage (GCS), launched in 1991, was based on Novell Netware 3. This service allowed clients to dial in and manage files through a primitive interface, or via FTP or Gopher, highlighting GEN’s early recognition of the potential of cloud technologies. GCS morphed many times through the following years as internet speeds increased and technologies evolved moving from Netware 3, to 4, to 5, then to FreeBSD before being phased out in favour of newer services like WebDAV and SFTP.

GENActive

At the end of 1999, the internet was firmly established as a thing, and the need for 'payments' was in its infancy. GEN Invested a considerable sum in the development of GENActive, an online payment platform which integrated with banks for transferring money between companies on the internet. An GENActive account holder would be able to pay for a product or service, and GEN handled the transaction whether that was a credit card (MasterCard/Visa), bank transfer or cheque (yes, it handled cheques). Unfortunately, PayPal and Nochex were already entering the market and quickly took up market share, but the platform continued to handle payments for clients until 2011 when GEN's internal CRM systems were replaced.

GENSupport

At the end of 2000, GEN Purchased an IBM hardware maintenance company (KCL) and then merged their hardware support services into a newly formed company GENSupport, which took on all the staff and contracts for maintenance. The thinking at the time was that hardware maintenance was indeed a separate channel and should be managed as such, whereas the core business was an ISP. 6 Years later however, it was clear that the separation was a mistake and internal disputes about who's 'fault' support call-outs where, between GEN (Connectivity and Systems) and GENSupport (Hardware) became a major distraction, and after several restructures the satellite business was merged back into the main company.

GENSecurity

At the end of 2001, GEN acquired Delta Security, a national alarm installer, with a view to monopolise what was a small trend in very early building automation (automatic lights, heat etc), integrating that and alarm monitoring with GEN's connectivity solutions. The company ran for 9 years until 2010 at which point it was sold wholesale due mostly to its lack of profitability with the 'smart building' not really taking shape as predicted.

Privacy and Security

Privacy is important, and whilst governments work tirelessly to circumvent privacy, GEN works to secure it, not only by supporting privacy advocates, like the EFF and actively participating in Privacy working groups, but also by delivering toolsets that have embedded encryption.

Community Funding

GEN has always provided services free of charge or at greatly discounted rates to public bodies, charities and worthy causes, and has a formal programme for assessment and approval. GEN also maintains one of the largest repositories of legacy software and documentation covering 6 decades of computing and technology, free to access by all on the GEN Wiki.

Open Source

GEN has a long and established history of open source contributions, both code and donations. Code samples, source code repo's, and open source applications are available on the WIKI and on other community sites.

/home/gen.uk/domains/wiki.gen.uk/public_html/data/pages/heritage.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/04 15:53 by genadmin

POWERED BY GEN UK