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January 4, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Infant Racal Electronics offspring Racal Imaging Systems Ltd has given the UK end of Sybase Inc its first local success in the Unix relational database market, with an initial order for two licences to the Sybase database management system, to be used as a hub to the Racal document image processing system. The system has so far won itself only a handful of installations, and have all been based around the Informix database to date, but Informix has been found wanting when the number of documents held in a system starts to approach the very large numbers – 2m to 3m already envisaged by some of Racal Imaging Systems’ customers. A spokesman for Racal would say little more than confirm the purchase of the licences with the intention of inclusion into the document system, and added it is attractive when used in bigger systems, with higher transaction rates and where you want to back up and modify the database while it is still running. The Racal system works by taking an image through a Canon scanner, and storing it on optical disks after processing by a Sun Microsystems Sun 3 workstation and some Racal proprietary image processing hardware. The document isn’t translated into an easily handled digital form in the way an OCR scanner would handle it, but instead the image is just broken down for reconstruction in its original form. This means that handwritten documents and drawings can be stored on the optical disks as well as more traditional text only documents. The relational database management system is run on the Sun workstation to keep track of the documents. When it launched the system in March (CI No 633), Racal said that a basic system, with one Sun workstation, 2Gb of optical disk storage and 150Mb of traditional magnetic disk costs around UKP89,000. No price difference has been established yet for the Sybase version, but it will primarily be for use on bigger systems. Racal’s customers tend to be the larger institutions such as the major banks and insurance companies, and the UK government’s Central Computer & Telecommunications Agency has one of the Racal systems on trial, and hopes are high that successful tests will lead to multiple government orders.

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