The Philadelphia-based software company Soft-Switch Inc which develops, markets and supports products that transparently interconnect multi-vendor electronic mail systems, has, as previewed (CI No 1,195), today launcheds a range of new electronic mail facilities in the UK. Within Europe the products will be available exclusively through Key Exchange Systems Ltd of London SE1, a holding […]
The Philadelphia-based software company Soft-Switch Inc which develops, markets and supports products that transparently interconnect multi-vendor electronic mail systems, has, as previewed (CI No 1,195), today launcheds a range of new electronic mail facilities in the UK. Within Europe the products will be available exclusively through Key Exchange Systems Ltd of London SE1, a holding company set up in 1986 as the result of a management buyout of the Canadian company Key Word Office Technologies. The objective of the company is to focus on document interchange in the broad sense including document conversion and Editable Document Exchange. To get a foothold in this market Key Exchange acquired a major stake in Soft-Switch’s UK company in 1986, and has hitherto been known as a product-based electronic mail company but it now feels ready to sell itself as a European solutions supplier. The market would seem to be particularly ripe for such a move at the moment. After all every company nowadays is talking of networking and open systems. On the other hand, companies in the UK are being very backward in coming forward and embracing electronic mail. Complementary, migratory Key Exchange’s managing director Alan Wallman feels that this is symptomatic of British industry’s ignorance as to what the implementation of OSI actually involves, since in his opinion Soft-Switch’s electronic mail products provide a complementary, migratory route to Open Systems Interconnection. His argument quite simply is that when the open standards solution to the multi-vendor environment is reached, companies will still have to manage electronic mail networks across equipment from different vendors. The new products relevant to this dilemma include the X400 Gateway for standard electronic mail systems such as those from DEC, IBM, Wang, Hewlett-Packard, which enables people to mix and match between proprietary systems such as SNA and public mail carriers such as British Telecom’s Gold 400. The system runs on a 80386-based Dell System 310 from Dell Computer Corp with two 68000-based network adaptors. One connects to the X25 network and the other to the SNA network via LU 6.2. The SNA software and OSI X400 software operate under Unix on the Dell 310. The initial licence fee of the complete packaged solution including hardware and software is around UKP42,000. The SMTP Gateway connects Soft-Switch users to TCP/IP networks, including Unix mail systems, thereby offering a strategic corporate product for the implementation of Open Systems Interconnection and is licensed at around UKP18,000. Finally, Soft-Switch has a local area network gateway, SNADS, for Network Courier for a licence fee of about UKP60,000. This type of Soft-Switch product is already available to Novell, 3Com, Banyan and Higgins mail systems. Other product announcements include Directory Services, a database that provides automatic synchronisation with DEC DDS and Wang Office Directories (UKP20,000 to UKP40,000 licence), Access Control Facility providing four additional levels of network security, Distributed Print Services which can address mail to individuals who do not use electronic mail and route it to a specified system printer (licence UKP2,000), Distributed Library Services enabling a document or object to be stored and retrieved from anywhere in a multi-vendor environment (licence UKP18,000), and the Application Program Interface providing an interface for applications on the IBM host (licence UKP5,000). With products like these, Key Exchange believes it is poised to cash in on the vast explosion in the use of electronic mail it is forecasting over the next few years.