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August 15, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

With the Ministry of Defence close to announcing the two consortia who have won through the first evaluation for its CHOTS office automation project, British Telecommunications Plc has made the timely announcement that it will be implementing its own 60,000-user office automation system which is based firmly on the work it has been doing for its CHOTS tender. COAST, Common Office Automation System for Telecom, will be implemented over the next 10 years using the Uniplex Business Software suite which is being bid by three of the four CHOTS contenders – and British Telecom Fulcrum’s M6000 Unix machines, Zenith-sourced M5000 MS-DOS boxes and M1779 terminals. In a move likely to be followed by other members of the various CHOTS consortia, Telecom says it will also bring the COAST system to market later this year. Systems from Telecom’s CHOTS partners Nixdorf Computer UK and Honeywell Bull Ltd are also being considered to span the necessary performance range and security requirements of COAST. The project will result in one of the largest distributed office automation systems in the world, is estimated to cost between UKP25m and UKP30m a year through the 1990s, and will provide Telecom users in the UK, US, continental Europe and elsewhere with mail, word processing and diary scheduling. They will be linked by both local areas networks and Telecom’s Internet wide-area packet switch network, which is intended to carry voice as well as data. In a further resounding endorsement of Open Systems Interconnection and Unix, Telecom’s director of Computing and Information Systems Dr John Spackman said Telecom was going all out for Open Systems-compliant networks and Unix-based departmental systems and expected to cut its computing system procurement costs by at least 10%. Following a pilot implementation, COAST is set to be installed in each of Telecom’s 28 UK districts and in the headquarters of the UK Communications division. Despite its involvement with Uniplex for CHOTS, British Telecom is also understood to have looked at Uniplex’s arch-rival Quadatron’s Q-Office. The Ministry of Defence is said to be ready later this month to announce the two consortia, out of the four original competitors, who have won the right to build competing CHOTS prototypes – only one of which will be selected to be the basis of the UKP350m system. The other consortia still in the running are led by GEC Telecommunications, ICL – which is bidding OfficePower, and Thorn EMI Software Sciences.

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