IPX and SPX both provide connection services similar to TCP/IP, with the IPX protocol having similarities to IP, and SPX having similarities to TCP. IPX/SPX was primarily designed for local area networks (LANs), and is a very efficient protocol for this purpose (typically its performance exceeds that of TCP/IP on a LAN). TCP/IP has, however, become the de facto standard protocol. This is in part due to its superior performance over wide area networks and the Internet (which uses TCP/IP exclusively), and also because TCP/IP is a more mature protocol, designed specifically with this purpose in mind.
Despite the protocols' association with NetWare, they are neither required for NetWare communication (as of NetWare 5.x), nor exclusively used on NetWare networks. NetWare communication requires an NCP implementation, which can use IPX/SPX, TCP/IP, or both, as a transport.
For the most part, Novell's 32-bit Windows client software have eschewed NWLink for an alternative developed by Novell, although some versions permit use of Microsoft's IPX/SPX implementation (with warnings about potential incompatibility).
Implementations have been written for various flavors of Unix/Linux, both by Novell and other vendors. In particular, Novell's UnixWare supported IPX/SPX natively. However, while UnixWare could act as a client to NetWare servers, and applications could optionally support IPX/SPX as a transport, UnixWare did not provide the ability to share files or printers on a NetWare network without an additional software package. Open Enterprise Server - Linux does not support IPX/SPX.
Both Microsoft and Novell have provided support (through Proxy Server/ISA Server and BorderManager, respectively) for IPX/SPX as an intranet protocol to communicate through a firewall. This allows a machine using client software to access the Internet without having TCP/IP installed locally; the client software emulates a native TCP/IP stack and provides WinSock support for local applications (e.g. web browsers), but actually communicates with the firewall over IPX/SPX. In addition to simplifying migration for legacy IPX LANs, this provides a measure of security, as the use of the IPX protocol on the internal network provides a natural barrier against intruders, should the firewall be compromised.
One area where IPX remains useful is to sidestep VPNs that force all TCP/IP traffic to traverse the VPN, preventing any access to local resources such as printers and shared disks.
The right time for IPX: a lack of IP infrastructure and high-bandwidth apps slowed uptake of IPX in the beginning. That has all changed. With a critical mass of IP in the core and talk of HD voice, IPX is in the spotlight. But the focus is still on the technology and voice support is a question mark.(Cover story)
Oct 01, 2010; The promise of ipx pushed by the GSMA appears on the surface to be the solution to all carriers' ills--all services over...