Printer Friendly

Communications, interconnectivity drive office automation strategies.

Communications, Interconnectivity Drive Office Automation Strategies Communications and the need for intercnnectivity continue to drive the office automation strategies of major computer vendors. Typically, the communications offerings encompass three levels of computing hierarchy--personal, departmental and host--providing both peer-to-peer operation as well as communications between the various levels.

Also, most vendors support an open communications architecture, which differs from closed or proprietary ones, such as IBM's Systems Network Architecture (SNA), in that they encourage multi-vendor installations. Usually the architectures support common industry standards and follow the layered structure of the Open Systems Interconnection reference model developed by the International Standards Organization (ISO). This gives users the freedom to choose from, and mix, equipment from the various vendors supporting the standards, as well as the flexibility to move from one generation of products to another without fear of redundancy. Further, by publishing the interfaces and protocols of their open architectures, vendors encourage third-party suppliers to develop specialized products for the networks, increasing the options open to the user.

For interconnectivity, most vendors target the IBM office systems, with particular emphasis on its Distributed Office Support System (Disoss).

IBM announced its office-automation strategy in 1980 with a "statement of direction," which committed the firm to putting its range of office systems into a cohesive network so that users could create documents on one system, review and edit them on another, and then mail them to recipients on still other IBM systems.

To provide a framework for this strategy, IBM first supplemented its Systems Network Architecture with two additional office architectures: Document Content Architecture (DCA), which provides the ground rules for describing the internal structure of information for document distribution and similar applications; and Document Interchange architecture (DIA), which provides the rules for functions such as distributing, filing and retrieving information. In effect, DCA takes care of the content of the letter or memo, while DIA is the envelope that helps ensure that a message reaches its destination. IBM also introduced an extension to SNA, Systems Network Architecture distribution Services (SNADS), which permits document distribution among various systems.

In October 1984, IBM built on these capabilities, announcing a series of programs called the IBM Office Systems Family (OSF), which permit the exchange of information in networks of IBM PC, System/36 and System/370 users, as well as with existing IBM office systems such as the Displaywriter, the 8100 information system and the 5520 administrative system. Documents and mesages can be exchanged between systems because the program are based on IBM's DIA/DCA office architectures.

Last October, IBM further improved connectivity among its systems by introducing its long-awaited token-ring local-area network. It also announced DisplayWrite/370, which, in conjunction with Personal Services/370 and Professional Office Systems (Profs) provides a rich host-based office-systems offering for users of IBM 3270 displays.

With the host-based DisplayWrite/370 software, IBM users can now employ similar word processing functions in workstations, departmental computers and host systems. DisplayWrite/370's editing functions are similar to those of previously announced IBM OSF programs and are designed for use on IBM 3270 terminals or IBM PCs with 3270 emulation.

IBM also unveiled two releases of a new version of Profs that fulfill an October 1984 statement of direction: providing for exchange of editable documents between Profs and Disoss users, transmission of Profs notes to Disoss users, and use of DisplayWrite/370 as a Profs text editor. In addition, Profs Version II, Release I has calendare enhancements designed to improve scheduling procedures. With Profs Version II, Release II, users will also be able to create, revise and print DCA-based documents and exchange them with IBM PCs, large hosts and other office systems.

IBM Expands Personal Computer Offerings

In last October's product blitz, IBM also introduced two PC products that provide a range of telephone directory, answering and advanced voice-command functions for PC users. Its Voice Communications Option consists of a PC adapter card and control program. With additional software, IBM PC users can employ voice commands instead of keyboard instructions to operate application programs. Other application programs give telephone-answering capabilites to PCs and alow users to create personal phone directories and place calls with a single keystroke. In addition, a program that converts text to synthetic speech allows individual with hearing or speech impairments to hold telephone conversations. Another program allows individuals to use a telephone and an IBM PC to access mail and calendar information stored on a System/36 or System/38. The voice-communications option is priced at $1,250, while the personal telephone-manager program and adapter are $70 and $325, respectively.

IBM's token-ring LAN operates at 4 Mb/s over the IBM cabling system, using either shielded or unshielded twisted-pair wiring. The network supports up to 260 devices suing shielded wiring or 72 devices using unshielded twisted pair. Computers supported initially are the four models of the IBM PC family, which are attached to the ring by an internally mounted adapter card and adapter cable. IBM says that a typical eight-station configuration costs $828 per workstation, excluding PCs and cabling.

IBM's LAN strategy is to open the network to other vendors. "This will allow others to develop software applications and additional hardware to add more function to the network," said Stephen Schwartz, IBM vice president and assistant group executive, Information Systems and Communications Group, Telecommunications Products Organizations. "We already have offered early prototypes and specifications to several manufacturers who are interested in developing products," he said.

IBM developed the network interface specifications to meet the IEEE 802.5 standard and the ECMA (European Countries Manufacturers Association) 89 standard for token-ring, base-band local-area networks. IBM also publishes the electrical characteristics other vendors require for attachment to the ring, and has worked with Texas Instruments in the design of logic chip sets for ring attachment. TI is making the chip sets available to other equipment manufacturers. IBM has also made public applications interfaces such as Netbios, and has announced a new application program interface, Advanced Progam-to-Program Communications for the PC (APPC/PC). Based on IBM's SNA LU 6.2 interface, APPC/PC, can be used to write application programs for peer-to-peer communications between PCs and SNA-based host computers. LU 6.2 allows applications on two different computers to communicate.

Xerox's Open Strategy on Ethernet Pays Off

Xerox's open strategy of publishing Ethernet network protocols and encouraging licensing arrangements seems to have paid dividends. The firm claims that more than 300 other vendors have adopted Ethernet and that more than 35,000 Ethernet networks have been installed in customer offices around the world by Xerox and other vendors. More than 40 Xerox products can now operate together over Ethernet, along with minicomputers from Digital Equipment Corporation and personal computers from IBM and other vendors.

In recent months, Xerox has announced the second and third phase of its long-range plan to exand communications networks, systems and software and to integrate them with those of other vendors. New communications offerings include a low-cost 1-Mb/s personal computer network that runs over standard twisted-pair telephone wire, and a 10-Mb/s, entry-level LAN that connects up to 30 MS-DOS personal computers over a 600-cabling and repeaters.

Xerox has also announced that it will offer AstraNet, a technology that it says extends the implementation of coaxial-based Ethernet LANs to other physical media, such as fiber-optic cable, the IBM cabling system or a combination of both media. A product of Astra Communications of Mountain View, California, AstraNet is currently being Alpha-tested in a variety of business and university environments in the United States.

Looking ahead, Xerox says it will continue to offer interconnection of its products and networks with those of other vendors and with a wide range of public and privated networks. It is also committed to fully supporting the Open Systems Interconnection model of the ISO. "By integrating Xerox networks and software with those of other vendors," says Rober Adams, president, Xerox Systems Group, "we are responding to the long-range requirements of customers and offering them more freedom of choice, through compatiblity, in their selection and usage of equipment."

Xerox says it will support ISO standardization efforts by providing gateways, by migrating to standards as they are established and by contributing to the standardization process. Other integration goals are to provide local-area network support for Ethernet, token-bus and token-ring protocols, provide compatiblity with the office-function capabilities contained in the Manufacturing Application Protocol (MAP), and to interface with emerging wide-area network functions.

During 1986, Xerox will introduce software for its communications servers that will enable the to function as IBM SNA gateways. The first capability will be an IBM 377X remote batch service, the second will provide support for IBM 3270 interactive terminals, and the third will be a gateway to the IBM Disoss environment. This will link Xerox users to the mailing, filing and library services performed on IBM disoss-equippped systems, allowig users to access documents stored i Disoss evironments using IBM's DIA and DCA protocols. These documents would be converted to Xerox formats for editing, adding sophisticated graphics and printing on the Xerox network printers. Textual documents could be converted and stored back in the IBM host for archival purposes, if desired.

Xerox's 1-Mb/s network, called Xerox Communications (XC) 22, utilizes AT&T's Starlin technology and runs over standard twisted-pair telephone wire. For $720 per workstation connection, users ca exchange data and messages between MS-DOS-based personal computers and share a wide range of peripherals.

Network Connects up to 30 Workstations

The entry-level 10-Mb/s Xerox Communications (XC) 24 network connects up to 30 Xerox 6060 family workstations, or other personal computers based on the MS-DOS operating system, over a 600-foot cable segment. As many as 900 devices can be connected on the network with additional cabling and repeaters. The low-cost, easily installed LAN provides basic printing, filing and messaging services among interconnected microcomputer workstations and also allows users to share a wide range of peripherals.

In addition to using him coaxial cable (RG58) the XC 24 network can share the same physical cable as the Ethernet-based Xerox Network System (XNS), and can operate at the same time with XNS. Personal computers can be coinfigured, via software, to be members of one or both networks. This enables users to migrate from XC 24 networks to full XNS networks through the addition of a dedicated XNC network server. Software is provided for PC users to function on both XC 24 and XNS networks. Communications between an XC 22 and XC 24 network can be accomplished from a networked PC using local TTY communications, and between XC 22 or XC 24 networks and an XNS network via the local TTY to the XNS Interactive Terminal Service. In the future, Xerox says it will offer a series of LAN products that will link XC 22 networks directly to XC 24 and XNS networks.

More than 40 Xerox products can now operate with each other over the Ethernet network. These products include several models of personal and professional computers and word processing systems, a wide range of laser printers, artificial intelligent scanning systems. Xerox recently added a portable digital facsimile transceiver to its product line. The Xerox 7010 telecopier transmits documents at 25 seconds per page, measures 12 inches wide, 12 inches deep and 4 inches high and weighs 22 pounds.

Xerox has also announced its first commercail product, the Xerox 4060 computer printing system, to use ion-deposition technology, known as ionography. Ionography is a relatively new printing technology that makes use of a print cartridge to create an ion-charged pattern on a receiving drum. The pattern is then developed using xerographic toner and fixed to paper using high-pressure cold fusion. Comparable in cost to a line printer, the 60-page-per-minute 4060 will save users money by reducing the cost of printing and storing forms and eliminating the need for post-processing operations normally associated with line printers, such as bursting and decollating pre-printed forms.

Xerox is also expanding its support for the Interpress Printing Architecture, a printing standard used by Xerox network workstations and electronic printers. Full documentation of this page-description language has been published, and Xerox is supporting other vendors and users in its application through classes, consultation and implementation aids.

Apple Polishes Macintosh

Apple Computer has also published the protocols of its LAN, AppleTalk, to spur developers to provide innovative products for use on the network. AppleTalk is the backbone of The Macintosh Office, which has the goal of increasing the productivity of knowledge workers through improved communications. AppleTalk allows Macintosh and other personal computers to share peripherals, and it enables up to 32 computers and peripheral devices to communicate with each other within work areas of 1,000 feet. In addition, AppleTalk connects as a tributary to other networks for communications outside AppleTalk, and multiple AppleTalk networks can be bridged together to extend beyond 32 connections.

Much of the AppleTalk architecture is already built into Macintosh and will be built into all the peripherals designed for the network. Devices connected to the network exchange data over a shared, shielded twisted-pair cable using a an Ethernet-like CSMA/CA (Collision Avoidance) protocol. Applle says it was able to maximize use of the network's 230.4-kb/s bandwidth by designing efficient software protocols so that data can be transferred at speeds comparable to those of networks with much-higher bandwidths. The suggested retail price of $50 for AppleTalk includes the AppleTalk connector and two meters of cable.

Another element of The Macintosh Office is the LaserWriter, a high-resolution laser printer that can be shared in a work group to print such documents as newsletters, overhead transparencies, business forms, memos, brochures and reports. In January, Apple introduced the $6,800 LaserWriter Plus, featuring more type fonts and faster operaion than the original LaserWriter, which will continue to be sold for $6,000.

Apple also unveiled the Macintosh Plus, which is designed to overcome drawbacks with the existing Macintosh; namely, its lack of memory, slow speed and limited keyboard. Macintosh Plus retains the same compact design and distinctive, visual user interface of the earlier models, but provides 1 Mb of internal memory and 800K of disk-storage capacity. Software applications run up to 50 percent faster on the Macintosh Plus due to its larger memory, improvements in system software and new internal disk drive that can access data faster. Also, a new keyboard provides a numeric keypad and directional arrow keys for cursor control. The Macintosh Plus carries a list price of $2,599, while the price of the current Macintosh has been dropped $500 to $,199. There are a number of options for owners of the current Macintosh to upgrade their units, or to trade in their machines, including the discontinued Lisa, for a Macintosh Plus.

Speaking at the product introductions, John Sculley, Apple president and chief executive officer, announced an operating agreement with Northern Telecom allowing Macintosh computers to be connected with computers and peripherals of other vendors over the Meridian PBXs. Sculley also said that Apple will be addressing two other communications applications during 1986: electronic mail and the use of Macintosh technology to front-end host computers in order to make it easier for non-technical office workers to communicate with host computers.

Digital Equipment Corporation also views communications as the cornerstone of its office automation strategy. DECnet Phase IV allows users of Digital systems to share programs, data files and other computer resources throughout the network. It also support Ethernet and provides gateways to X.25 and SNA networks. For office automation applications, Digital supplements these communications capabilities with a variety of workstations and an integrated menu-based software package, the All-in-1 office and information system. All-in-1 offers generic functions like word processing along with job-specific functions such as sales analysis, while at the same time providing a common interface among personal, departmental and corporate functions.

Last July, Digital announced All-in-1 software for its MicroVax II family of computers. Priced at $12,600, the package includes Digital's WPS-Plus word processing software and all features available in previous VAX versions of the office automation software, including electronic mail, desk-mangement and time-management functions.

"Digital has put the industry's most-widely accepted office system, All-in-1, on the newest, most-powerful super microcomputer, the MicroVax II, and is offering it at the lowest cost--$4,023 per subscriber on a 30-subscriber system," commented Henry Ancona, group manager for Digital's Office and Information Systems group at the product's announcement. Ancona also announced that through Digital's PC connection capabilities, IBM personal computers can now participate in both VAX and MicroVax environments.

Over the past year, the firm has announced a series of software products aimed at further integrating Digital and IBM networks. One product, DECnet-DOS, integrates IBM personal computers into a DECnet network, allowing it to communicate and share data with other DECnet nodes rather than acting simply as a dumb terminal. Another product, Disoss Document Exchange Facility (DDXF), is a two-way transfer facility that provides both library and distribution services for final form documents, while a third product, External Document Exchange (EDE) with Disoss, supports revisable fomr text document exchange. It allows users tos earch for, retrieve, file, edit or delete documents residing in an IBM host document library. Both final-form and revisable-form IBM documents can be assessed by Digital system users through menus that are integrated into its All-in-1 main menu. All document conversion and routing to Disoss is handled transparently to the user. EDE with Disoss software transparently converts the IBM document to a WPS-Plus or DECdx document format so users can edit the document without even knowing it was an IBM document, while still retaining document fidelity.

Last October, Digital introduced VMS/SNA, MicroVMS layered software that enables individual MicroVax I and II and VAXstation II systems to directly connect to, and participate in, an IBM SNA environment. A system-to-network interface, VMS/SNA does not require a gateway or participation in a DECnet environment in order to interface with the SNA network. Under VMS/SNA, the MicroVMS system is responsible for interfaicng between the Digital system and the SNA environment. For this reason, VMS/SNA is suited to installations that require low-volume, single-system SNA links. Users may find VMS/SNA appropriate initially, migrating to a DECnet/SNA gateway and DECnet network when the system and application grows without disrupting business operations.

Digital's Bridge Links Ethernet LANs

In its October product announcements, Digital also unveiled a bridge for linking multiple Ethernet local-area networks and several WPS-Plus document-processing products and enhancements. The LAN Bridge 100 can link Ethernet networks over distances to 22 km and incorporate both baseband and broadband cables as well as fiber-optic links. The intelligent bridge manages network taffic by identifying each computer, printer and device on each network segment. To optimize network utilization, it blocks locally addressed packets from leaving any LAN segment. If a computer is disconnected and reconnected in another segment of the extended LAN, all the bridges will automatically change the routing for information packets with that node address. For remote network management, Digital offers software to remotely monitor bridge performance and characteristics, modify bridge parameters and initiate bridge self-test.

In expanding its document-processing capabilities, Digital introduced a new generation of WPS-Plus software for MicroVAX and VAX systems with enhanced linguistic capabilities. It also introduced WPS-Plus for Digital's Professional series of desktop minicomputers and for the IBM PC and PC XT, as well as document-processing software enhancements for DECmate word processors. Digital now offers a fully integrated document-processing environment that includes MicroVAX and VAX departmental systems, a DECmate word processor, a Rainbow personal computer, Professional desktop minicomputers and the IBM PCs and PC XTs. Documents can be created and edited on any of these workstations using the same keystrokes and commands, transferred to a MicroVAX or VAX-based All-in-1 system for electronic review and distribution, and printed on high-quality laser printers using DECpage.

Honeywell Embraces Disoss with Its Docu-Link Facility

Honeywell has also embraced Disoss with an addition to its Office Automation System Facility (OASF), called Docu-Link. Under OASF, Docu-Link allows DPS 6 systems to share documents and data files with IBM hosts running Disoss/370 Release 3.2 as well as with Disoss-compatible systems from other vendors. Docu-Link works in conjunction with Docupower, a generic application that interfaces directly to Disoss on an IBM host. Users may file, search, distribute, delete and print documents at will and may move freely between Disoss and OASF environments through standard menu selections. Revisable format translators are provided under Docu-Link that translate between DCA and OASF formats.

In October, Honeywell added an entry-level model, the OMS 22, to its line of menu-based Office Management Systems and unveiled the first two members of its personal computer family. The XP (Extended Processor) and the AP (Advanced Processor) series are operationally and software-compatible with the IBM PC XT and PC AT. Honeywell also introduced synchronous terminal emulation to allow the XP and AP, as well as the IBM PC family, to communicate with the company's standard DPS 6 minicomputers, OMS products and with DPS 4, 7, 8, 88 and 90 mainframes.

NCR has also enhanced communications capabilities among several of its key office devices with a series of products that allow interconnection and information exchange between clusters of NCR WorkSavers, DOS-compatible personal computers and NCR Tower super microcomputers. One product, the NCR link multiple WorkSaver clusters into a multi-system shared-resource environment. Level II provides the multi-system functionality of Level I, plus support for interconnection with the opttional Tower Server and NCR and other DOS-compatible personal computers. The Tower Server allows the WorkSaver series, and optionally the NCR PC 4, 6 and 8 personal computers, to gain access to UNix applications and services running on a Tower XP or 32 supermicrocomputer.

In Level II configurations, the link between WorkSaver 300 masters is a coaxial cable bus that conforms to the IEEE 802.3 communications standard. Node workstations communicate through a new WorkSaver 300 Ethernet module acting as an intelligent network controller for the entire cluster. The Tower Server consists of a Tower XP or 32 equipped with NCR software that provides a number of basic utilities, including Unix terminal emulation, access to Tower printers, archiving capability and diagnostics.

Burroughs Corporation has also announced a document architecture that makes its computer systems compatible in multi-vendor environments. The architecture, called Document Format Architecture (DFA), allows Burroughs systems to exchange information with IBM's DCA and DIA architectures, as well a with other emerging standards such as the US Navy's Document Interchange Format.

Sperry's office system, Sperrylink, combines word and data processing, personal computing electronic mail and voice services with special administrative functions. It is supported by the Distributed Office Processing State Model 20, which provides shared resources to a community of up to 15 workstations and a wide variety of office applications, including electronic mail, electronic filing and retrieval, administrative services and office communications. Sperrylink software also includes a converter program allowing document compatibility with a number of non-Sperry word processors.

AT&T says its strategy is based on three principles: providing systems based on communications and networking, supporting existing standards and protecting the customer's investment. Over the past year, it has translated these principles into a number of computer, workstation and network products. Last spring it announced enhancements to its PC 6300 personal computer to position it against the IBM PC AT, and unveiled a new class of workstation, the Unix PC, which combines extensive voice and data communications capabilities with the ability to do several jobs at once for more than one person.

AT&T also unveiled a new LAN, Starlan, to interconnect the Unix PC, the 6300 PC, AT&T's 3B line of processors and asynchronous terminals over standard telephone wiring. Starlan can also serve as a gateway to AT&T's Information System Network, a larger general-purpose networking scheme that makes use of two-pair wiring, fiber-optic calbe and packet swtching to connect a wide variety of integrated voice/data systems, PCs, ASCII terminals and PBXs.

AT&T Bridges Unix and MS-DOS Operating Systems

Starlan was the first LAN to link Unix and PC-DOC machines. Its lower-level protocols follow the IEEE 802.3 standard for CSMA/CD operation at 1 Mb/s, while its upper-level protocols are compatible with the IBM PC Network and Microsoft's MS Network. This means that software developed for these networks will function with Starlan.

Last October, AT&T unveiled another element of its game plan by equipping its PCs to simultanously run both MS-DOS and Unix. By introducing a new PC called the AT&T Personal Computer 6300 Plus and an option board for its Unix PC, called DOS-73, the company bridged the two popular operating systems in both machines. In addition, the company announced an upgrade package to convert its PC 6300 to the new PC 6300 Plus and introduced expanded multi-user models of its Unix PC and 3B2 computers.

"Not only are we building bridges between operating systems and between members of the AT&T workstation family, we're also building bridges between people and computers," James Edwards, president of AT&T's Computer Systems Division, stated at the product announcement. "Normally when you make a vendor choice, you limit your ability to go in different directions as your business changes," Edward added. "A choice for AT&T does the opposite: customers keep the flexibility to chart their own course." Edwards notes that Starlan protects the customer's investment because it can use existing telephone wire. AT&T further protects its customers' investment by offering kits to upgrade products.

AT&T has also added two members to its 3B family of computers, the 3B 2/400 super microcomputer for up to 25 simultaneous users, and the 3B 15, a super minicomputer that supports up to 60 simultaneous users. In addition, it has introduced a new family of products that allow the 3B computers to access IBM mainframes operating in bisynchronous and SNA/SDLC environments. For managers and executives, the firm has introduced a soft-touch-screen terminal, the AT&T Personal Terminal 510A, which offers advanced telephone features, including a self-alphabetizing 100-entry telephone directory and on-touch access to data stored in PCs or mainframes.

Wan Pushes for Coexistence and Openness

Wang Labs established its open networking system strategy last spring by announcing nine products supporting its compliance with international communications standards and IBM compatiblity. Among the products were gateways to IBM's SNA network, and to Profs and Disoss, and an X.25 interface and X.3 PAD emulation facility for access to public data networks. Last September, Wang took another step toward coexistence and openness in the multi-vendor environment by adding Ethernet and IBM PC Network services to its WangNet and Fastlan local-area networks. It also announced two products that allow users to attach Wang pripherals to their host processors over the AT&T Premises Distribution System and IBM's Cabling System.

Previously, Wang-supplied basebased coaxial cabling had been required to run its 4.27-Mb/s data-link protocol between peripheral and host processor. Support for AT&T's Premises Distribution System and IBM's Cabling System allow this same data-link protocol to run over either unshielded or shielded twisted-pair wiring. In addition, Wang introduced an asynchronous controller that allows Wang word processing, office automation and data processing applications to run on a variety of standard asynchronous terminals linked to a Wang VS minicomputer through a PBX with twisted-pair wiring.

With the Ethernet Compatilbe Service, users can configure five independent Ethernet networks on a single WangNet or Fastlan cabling plant. Likewise, the IBM PC-Net Service allows users to attach members of the IBM PC family and compatibles to WangNet and Fastlan. In July, Wang applications, including Wang word processing, to the IBM PC with three new products for that system. It also introduced its Wang Advanced Professional Computer, which it claims is twice as fast as the IBM PC AT and able to support three industry-standard operating systems: MS-DOS, Xenix and the IN/ix version of System V Unix developed by Interactive Systems Corporation. The 80286-based personal computer can support one user with the MS-DOS operating system and up to four users with either version of Unix.

"Wang's PC strategy is twofold," says Carl Masi, senior vice president, Worldwide Sales and Marketing. "Where no PC is on the desk, we want to go head-to-head with the the computition with such superior price-performance products as the Wange Advanced Professional Computer. Where another vendor's hardware is already on the desk, like the IBM PC, we want to improve the performance of that machine by typing it into a Wang VS departmental processor and offering Wang-unique applications."

Data General Expands CEO Role

Data General provides access to IBM's Disoss environment through its CEO Document Exchange Architecture (DXA). By supporing IBM's DIA and DCA protocols, CEO DXA software enables Data General users to exchange documents, messages and other information with other vendors' systems over IBM SNA networks. Users can view, edit and print documents from either Data General's CEO environment or the IBM Disoss environment.

"DIA/DCA is becoming a de facto standard for document exchange and document format," notes David Lyons, vice president and general manager, Information Systems Division. "As other vendors migrate to DIA/DCA, Data General users will be able to communicate with those systems as well."

CEO DXA is fully integrated with the CEO Comprehensive Electronic Office software, which offers integrated word processing, electronic mail, electronic filing, calendar management and decision support. Data General claims there are well over 100,000 CEO users worldwide. Last July, the firm brought CEO functionality to the MS-DOS environment through a powerful word processing software package, CEOwrite. Data General also introduced two products that further integrate departmental and personal-computing capabilities: Dasher/One, the first in a new series of intelligent workstations that support offie-automation applications at the personal level while providing integration with departmental and corporate computer systems, and an enhanced version of the Eclipse MV/4000 Departmental Cluster which doubles the possible number of users to 32 and offers a cost-per-workstation of less than $5,000.

CEOwrite runs on the Dasher/One workstation, the Data General/One portable and the IBM PC as a stand-alone word processor, and can be integrated with departmental and corporate CEO systems. With Data eneral's CEO Connection software, Dasher/One users have access to CEO on a host computer, or to MS-DOS-based IBM PC applications. CEO Connection also gives users the flexibility of integrating Dasher/One workstations, the Data General/One, IBM PCs and larger corporate or departmental computer systems. At the departmental level, Eclipse MV/4000 DC supports a numbe rf communications environments, including X.25, SNA and the IEEE 802.3 local-area network.

In November, Data General expanded the range of its Eclipse MV/Family with the high-end Eclipse MV/20000 computer, which can support up to 160 active CEO users and 200 active distributed data processing users, and the the entry-level Eclipse MV/2000 DC, which brings the computer's power and sophistication to groups as small as three users. The 32-bit computer can support up to 24 users at a cost-per-workstation of $4,500.

Data General also introduced two models of a new generation of engineering workstations, the DS/7500 and DS/7700, which, with the new Technical Electronic Office (TEO) software, integrates into one system all of an engineer's daily functions, whether engineering or scientific, managerial or administrative.

TEO combines CEO with DG/Stage (Standard Applications and Graphics Environment). DG/Stage features user-configurable menus, powerful windowing techniques and a mail-messaging package compatible with CEO software, as well as optional general-purpose and specialized applications. Data General says that with the wide range of tools these options provide, users can create an integrated technical environment according to their own specifications.

Voice/Data Workstation Unveiled

For executives, Data General has also introduced an integrated voice/data worstation, the Dasher D555, which combines telephone and workstation functions in a single compact unit. The workstation also allows CEO users to send and receive voie messages through enhancements to the CEO software and the addition of a voice-mail controller board. Integrated with the CEO electronic mail facilities, the board allows voice messages to be received, filed, forwarded and deleted. It also supports distributing the messages to mailing lists and enables the sender to designate whether the message is urgent, confidential or certified. The workstation also includes a speakerphone and microphone for hands-free operation and contains an internal phone list of up to 40 entries. The D555 also supports such PBX features as call forwarding, call waiting , conference calling and quick calling.

Hewlett-Packard sees a five-level architecture to offie automation: personal, work group, department, corporate and public (services). HP addresses these levels with what it calls an "integrated, seamless set of products," spanning the full range of organizational activity and satisfying seven basic needs: individual productivity, integrated applications, shared resources, person-to-person communications, information access and management, networking and multi-vendor communications, and implementation assistance, product training and support.

In 1984, the firm introduced its Personal Productivity Center concept as a framework for products that satisfy all seven of the targeted user needs. Its solution combines office automation, data processing personal computing and communications. In September, HP built on its PPC strategy with the introduction of its Vectra personal computer and Officeshare local-area network. Using the advanced Intel 80286 microprocessor, the Vectra PC offers compatibility with the IBM PC AT but a 30-percent faster processing speed. Priced at $3,199, the entry-level Vectra PC also costs some 20 percent less than the entry-level IBM PC AT. In addition, it offers high-resolution text and graphics for both color and monochrome monitors and an improved keyboard. For secretarial and other support activities, HP packages the Vectra PC with AdvanceWrite word processing software developed jointly by HP and Samna Corporation into a workstation called Vectra Office. AdvanceWrite software offers conversion to both ASCII and IBM's Document Content Architecture to permit sharing of documents amog different word processing systems.

The HP OfficeShare network is based on the IEEE 802.3 standard and Microsoft's MS Net. In addition to the Vectra PC, the network supports HP Touchscreen and Touchscreen II personal computers and members of the IBM PC family. It also provides connection to the HP 3000 departmental computer systems.

Samna Corporation has also enhanced its Samna+ software for IBM PCs and compatibles, and developed a version to operate on the IBM RT PC, the new 32-bit multi-user, multi-tasking workstation based on reduced-instruction-set computer architecture. Samna+ is a document-processing package that combines word processing capability, a fully integrated spreadsheet and a Word-Base Manager for quickly locating any word or phrase or combination of them on a disk. The new version of Samna+ supports the Data Interchange Format, which facilitates data exchange between Samna+ and popular spreadsheet software such as Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony. It also supports revisable form text DCA.

In November, the Atlanta, Georgia, firm announced a verison of Samna+ and its companion Samna Word III for use with the Unix System V operating system. The Unix version provide substantially the same features and capabilities contained in the DOS version but with expanded functions for users who work with very lengths documents. Users can interchange Samna files created under DOS and Unix using a conversion program.

HP and Applix Enhance Engineering Workstations

Hewlett-Packard has also joined forces with another software supplier, Applix of Westboro, Massachusetts, to enhance its HP 9000 series of engineering workstations. By making Applix's Alis office automation software available on its HP 9000 series 300 and 500 workstations, HP says it expects to greatly improve the productivity of engineers, who spend most of their time on non-engineeing tasks.

Alis integrates word processing, spreadsheets, data management, graphics and personal mail/calendar functions with networking capabilities, allowing users to produce and share documents and information electronically. In addition to Hewlett-Packard, Apollo Computer and Sun Microsystems have also signed with Applix in order to make Alis available on their engineering workstations.

According to Applix President Jit Saxena, engineerng workstations are an important segment of the office automation market. "Engineers are early adopters of new technologies," Saxena points out. "More importantly, they are demanding users of office automation equipment, spending more than 50 percent of their time on non-engineering work. They have to create, transmit and manage a huge volume of documents."

Alis allows tem to integrate and manipulate text, business graphics, drawings, spreadsheet and data-base information in the same document. Then, since Alis is designed to run on nearly any compuer that supports Unix, the engineer can send the document to anyone in the company using Alis on the network. It could go to another engineer at a workstation, a clerk at a minicomputer terminal, or a manager using an IBM PC at or compatible desktop unit.

Other software suppliers are bridging the gap between IBM and rival office automation systems. Software Research Corporation offers a Disoss interface package, called Docupower, that allows users to store and distribute documents among IBM and non-IBM office automation equipment in the network. In September, the Natick, Massachusetts, firm introduced another network software package, called SNE File Transfer Facility, that enables Digital equipment and Wang minicomputers, and IBM PC and compatible computers, to exchange information with each other or iwth MVS-based IBM mainframes.

Soft-Switch of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, also offers software to allow users of non-IBM systems to exchange revisable-form documents with Profs and Disoss users. In August, the firm enhanced its Profs bridge to allow the exchange of notes and final-form documents also. With the Soft-Switch bridge, users can exchange notes and final-form documents without knowing what office system the recipient uses or where it is located in the network. The software supports office automation systems from Wang, Xerox, NBI and MultiMate. In October, the firm also introduced an interface for Wang Alliance to allow the exchange of documents with the Wang OIS and VS systems, as well as with systems from IBM, Digital Equipment, Xerox, NBI and MultiMate.

Motorola Targets Document Exchange Capability

Motorola Information Systems has taken several steps during the past year to improve communications between its own systems and those of IBM and other vendors. Last June it introduced TransText, a series of software programs that allows its 4000/5000 minicomputers to communicate with a IBM office systems network via Disoss. TransText provides Motorola users with document-management capability within the Disoss environment, including the integration of data files with text, document manipulation and filing, and electronic distribution of documents as well.

The TransText Interface, which resides on any IBM host running CISCS/VS and Disoss 3.0 or higher, provides an entry into Disoss that allows its users to request document distribution and processing functions. Motorola users can transfer documents in one of three formats--Native, Revisable and Final Form--using one of three programs. TransText Native Form provides Series 4000 or 5000 users with the capability to assemble and transfer word processing documents in their native mode via Disoss to other Series 4000/5000 systems tied into the network. TransText Revisable Form allows documents to be exchanged between users, edited and then returned to the riginator in a form compatible with IBM's Revisable Form Text Document Architecture. TransText Final form gives Motorola and IBM network users the capbility to exchange, display and print documents in a form compatible with IBM's Final Form Text Document Architecture.

In addition to TransText, Motorola has introduced a micro-to-mainframe link, called MFE-Central, that allows IBM PCs and asynchronous terminals to communicate with a mainframe computer through the Motorola Series 4000/5000 minicomputers. For security, the dsigners of MFE-Central have devised a four-level scheme combining passwords, user identification codes and an automatic dialback feature. Another product, Vision-Linc, establishes peer-to-peer communications among minicomputers from Motorola and other vendors. With Vision-Linc, users can access, retrieve and update data files from a data base anywhere in the network, which means there is no need to maintain duplicate data bases on each system in the network. Vision-Linc supports 32 local terminals on any 4000/5000 system.

Motorola Introduces Ethernet-Compatible LAN

Last July, Motorola Information Systems supplemented its communications products with an Ethernet-compatible local-area network, Office Lan 6300, which can interconnect as many as 1000 Motorola System 6300 office information systems. According to James Risher, senior vice president of marketing, Motorola Information Systems is also developing OfficeLan products for its Series 2000, 4000 and 5000 product lines. "The objective is to enable all Motorola office systems to share information and resorces in a local office environment," he says.

Motorola has also introduced a software program, called WordShare, that allows its Series 4000/5000 minicomputers to communicate and exchange documents with Wang multi-user word processing systems. According to Risher, Word-Share features an open architecture that will eventually allow the 4000/5000 to communicate with word processing systems of up to five vendors.

Last July, the Cupetino, California, firm announced Business Assistant, a family of integrated software products that run on the Motorola Series 2000 and 6000 Unix-based departmental office information systems. Business Assistant provides an interface that reportedly allows users to take advantage of Unix without having to learn the Unix command set. It provides a series of customizable menus from which applications and services can be selected. Motorola's communications capability provides an environment enabling both Business Assistant and IBM PC users to share data and peripherals, not only within a departmental network, but also with any mainframe supporting SNA or bisynchronous communications.

Datapoint Adds Video Link

A number of other office automation suppliers have been active during the past year adding new models to their product arsenals. Datapoint unveiled an advanced office system that integrates full-motion color video and voice communications with personal computing and local-area networking capabilities. Called Minx, for Multimedia Information Network Exchange, the system employs an interactive video workstation that operates through a cluster server. The server can support up to eight Minx workstations, with a single coaxial cable connection to each. Maximum distance between the server and workstation is 1,000 feet, allowing a separation between workstations of 2,000 feet within a single cluster. Large systems of more than 200 users can be configured by combining workstation clusters in broadband networks of up to 20 miles, or through long-distance communications gateways.

The Minx workstation incorporates a high-resolution color monitor, color camera, view findr and full-duplex speaker-phone. Utilizing a simple mode selector and attached keypad, users can place and receive video cals with full-color, full-motion capabilities. Both two-way and multi-way conferences are accommodated, with the video image switched by voice activation to show the current speaker. A single-line telephone handset can be connected to the workstation for privacy.

In addition, users can connect a Data-point Vista-PC color professional computer or an IBM PC or compatible to the workstation to provide access to industry-standard applications. In this configuration, the workstations color monitor replaces the personal computer monitor. Users move from video-communications mode to PC mode simply by pressing a button on the workstation.

NBI has bolstered its departmental computing and personal computer networking capabilities with a shared resource system for clustering word processing and personal computing workstations, the OASys 64/es, and with Multinet Remote-Link and Office-Link. With the OASys 64/es, personal computer users can access NBI word processing, expanded MS-DOS applications and a variety of character and laser printer, as well as shared storage, peripherals and software.

Multinet Remote-Link provides remote users with access to NBI's office automation functionality through an NBI 4100 or IBM PC. It consists of an intelligent communications controller which attaches to an OAS s 64 or 64/es via NBI's Multinet local-area network, and emulates a series of virtual Multinet connections to remote personal computers equipped with Remote-Link software and standard RS-232 ports. Multinet Office-Link is an adapter that attaches to NBI's Multinet LAN, enabling standard telephone wiring to be used instead of special cabling.

Computer Consoles Incorporated has added another Unix engine, the Power 5/32 computer, to its range of systems supporting CCI's Office Power integrated office automation software. The most-compact member of its computer systems family, the Power 5/32, is slightly larger than a standard electronic typewriter. CCI reports that the US Air Force is the first major customer for the Power 5/32. The Air Force order includes an extensive network of the new systems, together with CCI's Power 6/32 32-bit super minicomputers, OfficePower and other applications software and more than 200 CCI personal computers.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Edwards, Morris
Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1986
Previous Article:Trends in the communications industry spring from advances in semiconductors.
Next Article:BOC improves toll data with network teleprocessing system.

Related Articles
Open Architectures Broaden the User Options in Office Automation.
Video, Internet access top 1996 techno-biz list.
Tape Automation For The Rest Of Us.
Managed ethernet switch.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters