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  1. Technology
April 23, 1992


By CBR Staff Writer

Excalibur Technologies Inc could be a name to remember during the coming months: a recent conversation with Darrell Atkin, marketing and communications director with the McLean, Virginia-based document imaging system specialist, left the impression that June is going to be a big month for the company, and that one or two whopping deals might be signed before the year’s out. The firm last month made the headlines with two impressive marketing deals – with Oracle Systems and Informix (CI No 1,892) – but these may just be the tip of the iceberg, as Excalibur is now known to be talking to Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, with a view to their distributing a soon-to-be-released RISC Unix version of the company’s flagship product, PixTex/EFS. Not only that, but Excalibur’s relationship with Oracle may be more important to the company that anyone first anticipated. Atkin told Computergram that Oracle may take Excalibur’s free-form content-based data retrieval methodology for implementation in its database management system, to complement Oracle’s SQL relational query procedure. It goes without saying that this would be a major coup for the little-known Virginian firm, which has just reported losses of $3.9m on revenues of $4.9m for the year to January 31, 1992.

Trip to the UK

Quoted on the NASDAQ system in New York for some six years now, and very much a US company – with over 100 installations over there and fewer than 20 overseas – Excalibur has just appointed a director of international operations, John Townsend, who is about to trip to the UK to hunt out a suitable base for a local sales and technical support office, scheduled to be open for business by the end of June. By the year end, the 100-strong firm hopes to have a whole bunch of European sales outlets in place. Selling direct is a major part of Excalibur’s strategy for growth, and although the company is keen to put in place a strong third-party distribution network, it retains the right to sell its stand-alone software packages itself. PixTex/EFS is an off-the-shelf document managment control system that enables electronic text and images to be collected from disks, scanners or facsimile machines to then be automatically filed and indexed in a graphical user interface of a physical file room. The software alone costs some $23,000, a bundled single-user system costing roughly $40,000, including Digital Equipment Corp workstation, scanner, printer, and optical character recognition software. In the UK, these bundled systems are available from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire-based Metrologie UK Ltd and from a distributor, Zeta Ltd.

By Sue Norris

Currently, PixTex/EFS runs under DEC’s VAX and Ultrix operating systems, and Excalibur in March launched a Windows 3.0-based client-server version. DEC already, theoretically, resells PixTex/EFS, but Atkin isn’t wildly taken by the success of the agreement – likening the situation to that between MIPS Computer Systems and DEC, when DEC ignored its commitment to MIPS and launched the Alpha RISC, Atkin says DEC is busily marketing its own document management system, DECimage Express. The introduction of Unix versions of the product – the firm intends to support all RISC Unix environments by the end of the year is expected to bring in deals with the big three mentioned above: Sun, Hewlett-Packard and IBM; Atkin says we may hear a related announcement in June. As we know, Excalibur relocated from Albuquerque, New Mexico in July 1990 – Atkin explains that the town was too isolated, that the firm had wanted to be nearer to its customers, namely those with paper-intensive businesses. The company’s new location is very near to Washington DC, strategic for access to Europe as well as for close proximity to government organisations, which account for some 20% of Excalibur’s business. Atkin insists that the company does not want to be dependent on government business – other vertical markets include utility companies, the process industries, the legal profession and the pharmaceutical industry; a further 10% of revenues are

generated within institutes of higher education, for management of student records and so on. Atkin names IBM, Wang and DEC as its major competitors, noting that, while Excalibur’s product does have an extremely innovative feature in its fuzzy search mechanism, it sells in most cases as a general document management system. But who knows what will happen when Oracle and Informix come to review the success of their new alliances with Excalibur – Atkin is hoping that both Oracle and Informix will chose to fully integrate their database products into Excalibur.


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Currently, DEC’s Rdb relational database system is implemented in PixTex/EFS for DEC workstation users; Ingres for Unix users. Excalibur was once known for its Savvy system – a personal computer-based text retrieval system. This was dropped in 1984, in favour of the company’s now patented pattern recognition-based retrieval algorithm. Atkin explains that this content-based database search method is useful on the factory floor if an unknown substance is found to have been spilled the user can key in its characteristics (what is looks and smells like) and the retrieval programme will search the database system for a similar match. National Semiconductor uses PixTex/EFS in manufacturing, for proposal development – claiming to have reduced the time this process takes from 25 days to just seven. As Excalibur waits for the big time, it holds tight to its strong cash position, not interested in growth by acquisition. The company’s growth strategy is four-pronged: growth by direct sales to end users; by international sales; by signing up additional distributors, integrators and value-added resellers; and growth by stealth, embedding Excalibur’s technology into well-established products.

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