SmartOffice Group renamed Salutation Consortium, introduces open specification that will link office machines, computers, and personal communicators.
The open industry association began organizational work under the temporary title of SmartOffice Consortium. Founding companies include manufacturers of computers, network services, information management solutions, and office equipment. They are APTi, Canon, Fuji Xerox, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, ISI, IBM, Kodak, Konica, Lexmark, Matsushita, Microware Systems, Minolta, Mita, Mitsubishi, Muratec, Novell, Okidata, Ricoh, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba, and Xerox.
The Consortium is defining an open architecture interface specification that will enable conforming products to identify device capabilities across a network. The Salutation Specification describes a capability exchange protocol and an application program interface (API) independent of hardware platforms and operating system software.
A draft version of the specification is available to the industry for review and comment. The specification can be requested by calling Robert Pascoe at 817/962-3146 or sending an e-mail request to email@example.com. In announcing the availability of the draft, the Consortium seeks to enlist membership from companies and other interested parties who wish to participate in development efforts.
Later this year the Salutation Specification will be made widely available to the industry. Companies will not have to be members of the Consortium to get the published Specification, which will be royalty-free.
Unlike previous visions of networking, the Salutation architecture does not assume that all transactions are initiated from a workstation or personal computer. Today many other products -- printers, copiers, telephones, and personal communicators, to name a few -- have processor-based intelligence. Despite their intelligence, these devices cannot always share information, and users cannot always get the information desired from the device at hand.
Taking a new, information-centric view of interoperability represents a conceptual change from workstation-centric thinking. The Salutation architecture also enables transactions between a fax machine and a copier, for example. The Consortium will support manufacturers' efforts to integrate different devices into a network by supplying them with a standard communications and API specification for discovering the capabilities of other entities in a network. The Salutation effort will enable people to use products in new ways to manage the information flow.
Some examples of this style of interoperability could be:
-- An online FAX machine in the mailroom accesses the server- based enterprise address book for determining FAX delivery instructions.
-- A data entry specialist uses the scanning function in an online copier to create electronic documents for online filing and distribution.
-- A homeowner accesses information about roof repair specialists and schedules service through the TV.
According to Robert A. Pascoe, IBM Software Solutions Division and president of the Consortium, devices that incorporate Salutation technology will create a new class of products that offer benefits not now available.
-- Reduced footprint -- Devices can be more modular in design
-- Shared administrative functions -- Devices can take advantage of network access to include online diagnostics and troubleshooting
-- Reduced cost -- Modular designs make it unnecessary to duplicate a capability in several devices. Both copiers and fax machines, for example, now include a scanning capability.
-- Market differentiation -- Salutation technology will allow manufacturers to create new product models with advanced features at competitive prices.
-- PC tasks transferred to new information appliances -- Salutation lets a user take additional advantage of a device's intelligence to perform functions directly from that device.
Open Industry Specification
The recognized need to link diverse types of information equipment has led to a number of other initiatives aimed at integrating computers and other devices. The Salutation Consortium has a broad conceptual design that bridges between more narrowly focused efforts such as the Infrared Data Association (IrDA), the Multi-Function Peripheral Association (MFPA), and Desktop Management Task Force (DMTF). Implementations based on Salutation's architecture would also bridge between Microsoft At Work's Windows environment and a broader, heterogeneous environment.
Novell Embedded Systems Technology (NEST) allows original equipment manufacturers to embed network connections and client services into their system products. Novell and several NEST partners are Consortium members, and view the Salutation architecture as synergistic.
The Salutation Consortium is also working with industry groups such as Versit in areas of shared interest such as personal data interchange and interoperability of computer telephony solutions. Versit is a global initiative formed by Apple, AT&T, IBM, and Siemens.
About the Consortium
The Salutation Consortium is a non-profit corporation with membership open to all interested companies, organizations and individuals. The Consortium has a three-tiered membership structure with annual membership fees ranging from $300 to $50,000.
Day-to-day operations of the Consortium are managed by the Consortium Secretariat, which consists of Pascoe, president and acting secretary, and Shinichi Okawa, Ricoh, treasurer. The Consortium is already active in both the United States and Japan, and plans to include European members.
Future work for the Consortium focuses on gaining additional members to continue development work on the Salutation technology and on promoting the use of the Specification as a common method of accessing and controlling the capabilities of interoperating devices, applications, and services. In support of this mission, the Consortium will provide training and documentation for companies implementing the Specification and is considering setting up certification processes for implementations of the Salutation technologies. The Consortium is also considering the submission of the Salutation Specification to international standards bodies. -0-
Note to Editors: SmartOffice Group Renamed Salutation Consortium, Introduces Open Specification That Will Link Office Machines, Computers, And Personal Communicators
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