Data General, ESRI ally

Data General Corp. and Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. late last month inked a deal that allows ESRI to resell Data General Aviion servers running ESRI's Arc/Info 7.1 Windows NT software a graphic application for working with geographic data.

Both the server and ESRI's stable of software are used widely among federal workers who manipulate and analyze geographic and related information to monitor and respond to events such as deforestation erosion and natural disasters. The Data General-ESRI deal for the first time puts two popular products for geographic information system (GIS) technology into one package for federal users. Previously agencies would have had to buy the servers and software separately.

The coupling of a Data General product with ESRI's software also is expected to provide a boost for Data General which has played sort of an underdog role in the federal GIS arena according to one GIS industry source who pegged Sun Microsystems Inc. Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. as leaders in federal servers for GIS. But Data General is not without a foothold. The company's Aviion servers are used for GIS at the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency said Paul Loucas Data General's director of federal marketing.

Loucas said the new Aviion-Arc/Info packages should gain ground in the federal market as government users migrate more toward Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT environments and away from platforms such as Unix. Loucas said there are at least two upcoming procurements that Data General expects will provide an entry point for DG's Aviion servers paired with Arc/Info 7.1 for Windows NT but declined to reveal the names of the procurements.

Many involved in GIS expect a large migration toward NT. "Overwhelmingly at any GIS conference I hear `We want NT because you can run it on a PC ' " said Emerson "Buzz" Hiller GIS marketing manager for Data General.

Dana Paxson ESRI federal marketing coordinator said NT would allow more federal workers to access and apply the geographic data that have been collected by federal researchers over the years but made available only to users of proprietary or Unix systems.

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