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June 6, 1988

SUPPLIERS UNITE TO BOOST X400 – BUT NOT FAST ENOUGH FOR USERS

By CBR Staff Writer

Suppliers of electronic mail systems have agreed to merge their efforts to promote the X400 standard for electronic message handling with the Eurosinet drive for open systems communications. The decision announced last month at a meeting of the European Community Commission has met with a mixed response from users, who would like to be consulted more over the evolving standard. The suppliers numbering Hewlett-Packard, DEC and IBM, who formed the X400 promotion group last June are anxious to raise the profile of the CCITT standard and feel the group’s work would now be most effective as a subset of Eurosinet which works across the seven layer spread of the Open Systems Interconnection model. But Ray Walker chairman of user standards body ITUSA said that users’ priorities are different from those being pushed by suppliers and is busy setting up a user-driven project whose sponsors include Lucas and British Aerospace. Walker cited the use of dial-up connection as being a top user need but which is excluded from the CCITT version in favour of connection over packet-switched networks. Security also needs to be treated more urgently, he said. X400 products on the market have to date met with an indifferent response from users who are sticking to vendors’ proprietary offerings. Colin Cooper, consultant from the project’s consultancy Level 7, said that proprietary products offer more functionality than the current 1984 CCITT version but claimed that the 1988 specification due out this November will bridge the gap to gain the necessary critical mass. But Walker reckons 1992 will be a more realistic date.

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