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American Airlines uses X.400 to meet connectivity goals.


While many companies talk about the future of X.400 messaging, Dallas-based American Airlines has quietly created an X.400 network of E-mail and X.400 gateway products which are working today within American Airlines' SABRE Travel Division.

Starting with a 100-user DG network and 500 users on a 30-serve NetWare LAN, the division is in the process of making X.400 services available to its customer base of over 16,000 travel agents worldwide.

The SABRE Travel Division--one of three information systems groups within American Airlines--is an R&D and marketing organization responsible for inventing, marketing, selling, and installing information products to travel agencies.

For the SABRE Travel Division, the decision to include X.400 E-mail was a natural.

American has 77,000 people worldwide, and finds it necessary to support multiple computing platforms and communications environments as a matter of course.

But American's willingess to pioneer X.400 appears to be, inpart, an outgrowth of the company's growing dependence on E-mail itself.

American Airlines has used multiple E-mail systems inhouse for a number of years.

As SABRE provides office-automation solutions to external sites, however, Terry Jones, vice president of product development for the SABRE Travel Division, has noted that the travel industry as a whole has tended to be slow to adopt E-mail.

As a first step towards increasing the acceptance and effectiveness of E-mail use in the agencies, SABRE includes Network Courier E-mail from Consumers Software in the suite of products the division now sells.

In addition to its ease of use, Network Courier offers the ability to support multiple communications standards such as SNADS/DISOSS, PROFS, MCI Mail, SMTP, and fax. It released its gateway to X.400--the first LAN-based X.400 gateway in the E-mail industry--in October 1989.

"We're finding that most people are relieved not to have to worry about talking PROFS to Customer One, and MCI Mail to Customer Two," Jones says. "A lot of agents are also starting to see the Network Courier E-mail solution as a replacement for fax. In instances where the agents previously did a lot of faxing back and forth with the customer, they're starting to work through E-mail instead."

Like the travel agencies it supports. SABRE finds it important to facilitate transparent communication among multiple varieties of E-mail.

Major Interfaces

"We interface to a couple thousand DP people on mainframes, who all have PROFS," says Jones. "We also interface with IBM, to our IBM sales staff--which means that we're tied into the IBM network as well. All of those individuals use PROFS."

In Jones' own department, Data General minicomputer users employ DG's CEO office automation system.

The CEO program includes X.400 E-mail capability for the 100 users it supports. But Network Courier's X.400 gateway now interlinks the two E-mail environments.

As a nondedicated server, the Data General machine is able to transfer X.400 messages to other American Airlines minicomputers, in addition to exchanging X.400 messages with the Network Courier LANs.

As a result, the division has been able to provide full E-mail connectivity between the minicomputers and LANs, without having to phase either environment out.

The resulting E-mail inter-network is expected to support a core group of 14,000 American employees.

Network Courier's X.400 gateway sits on a single dedicated PC, an IBM AT.

Although 30 LANs are supported, only one copy of the gateway software is required.

Each LAN "post office" routes E-mail messages to the gateway LAN. All X.400 messages are forwarded over an X.25 packet data switch from Montreal-based Eicon Inc.

American Airlines is using Network Courier 400 under the Microsoft Windows interface. Now that American has established a successful X.400 network within the company, SABRE's ultimate hope is to extend the company's own wide-area E-mail network to external client nets.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:electronic messaging
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1990
Previous Article:AMIS, X.400 to lead way.
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