New products make images and info more manageable

ANAHEIM, Calif.— Vendors at the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) '98 trade show last week introduced a slew of products covering every aspect of information management, from document capture and workflow solutions to handwriting recognition software. The following is a roundup of AIIM '98 highlights.

FileNet's new integrated product suite

FileNet Corp. unveiled a version of its Panagon IDM Desktop document management software, along with workflow and data-capture software designed to form an integrated product suite.

Panagon 2.0 comes just five months after FileNet delivered the first version of the software, part of a recrafted strategy to provide a set of applications that customers can use to create, control and route documents on the World Wide Web or from a Microsoft Corp. Windows NT platform. The products are one example of a growing trend among document technologies vendors to provide comprehensive imaging, document management, retrieval and workflow applications.A study unveiled last week by AIIM, which sponsored the trade show here, and International Data Corp. concluded that integrated solutions have the most market potential between now and 2002.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently awarded FileNet a contract worth more than $1 million to deploy Panagon as part of a program to make the NRC's process for regulating nuclear power plants paperless.

DVD-RAM drives on deck

Storage vendors said they expect Digital Video Disc (DVD)-RAM drives, for recording and erasing data on the next generation of compact discs, to become available to end users this summer or fall.

Wayne Augsberger, vice president with Cygnet Storage Solutions, San Jose, Calif., said he is expecting drives from Hitachi America Ltd. by July, which Cygnet will make available in a new DVD-RAM jukebox it announced at the show. Hitachi, Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. and Panasonic Communications & Systems Co. announced their drives last fall, and Panasonic demonstrated its drive at AIIM last week.

The DVD-RAM manufacturers are competing with drives and discs manufactured by Phillips Electronics and Sony Electronics Inc., which are promoting a different technology standard for rewritable DVD drives and disks, called DVD+RW. Kirit Patel, chief executive officer with Smart Storage Inc., which makes software for recording discs, said the market will determine the winner, but drive manufacturers may end up producing DVD readers that support both kinds of discs.

OTG upgrades storage management solutions

OTG Software, Bethesda, Md., released a Microsoft Windows NT version of its storage management product, called DiskXtender. The upgrade also supports Hierarchical Storage Management.

Meanwhile, the firm said it will add two new applications to its product line: WorkflowXtender, for routing and managing documents on the Web; and Web-Xtender, which allows users to retrieve images or Computer Output to Laser Disk documents using a Web browser. All three applications will be combined with the rest of OTG's products as the XtenderSolutions suite and will be shipped this summer.

Company president Richard Kay said the package is designed to "brand'' the company for customers. "We've been known as technodweebs with no marketing,'' he said. "Now it's time to take that next step.''

New product suite, name for Network Imaging Corp.

Network Imaging Corp., Herndon, Va., unveiled an integrated version of its 1View product line for imaging, workflow, document management and Computer Output to Laser Disk under a new name: Treev. The suite offers a common user interface for each application and is designed to be easily linked with third-party or custom-developed desktop applications.

The company also has changed its name to Treev, said president James Leto, because customers had trouble locating the firm and identifying its products on the Web. Leto said another company had claimed "network imaging'' for its Web address. In addition, Leto said, his company learned that the product name 1View was already copyrighted. Treev was the name of another of the company's products for banks, and it is derived from banking industry slang.

RRI introduces handwriting recognition software

A new data-capture application by Recognition Research Inc., Blacksburg, Va., lets users capture handwriting from any form. Unlike previously available "handprint'' recognition technology, which requires forms to be filled out by writing block letters and numbers in designated blocks, FormWorks 3.0 will accept "natural'' handwriting.

Chris Thompson, executive vice president of RRI, said the new technology, developed by ParaScript, Boulder, Colo., means that customers do not have to redesign their forms to automate data capture. Michael Glagola, the Eastern area sales manager with ParaScript, said the software can be used "in any area where you have a form that's context-sensitive.''

ParaScript's recognition engine works by extracting features of a person's handwriting on a form and then matching what it sees against a dictionary of words that are expected to be written in a particular field, such as street addresses from the U.S. Postal Service database in an address block. Unrecognized words or numbers can be corrected by manual data entry from an image.

The Education Department was the first customer to use FormWorks 3.0, beginning in January, for processing student loan applications.

Thompson said RRI will sell the product through integrators.

Digital's "Vault'' will archive e-mail

Digital Equipment Corp. introduced an application for archiving, indexing and retrieving e-mail that allows administrators to offload messages from a mail server while allowing end users to retain access to those messages. Digital Enterprise Vault is designed to be used with the Microsoft Exchange messaging platform.

"People's main volumes [on mail servers] have been building up, but end users don't want to delete their mail,'' said Signe Maximous, the enterprise software marketing manager with Digital. Using Enterprise Vault, network administrators can design schedules and filtering rules for archiving messages using pre-set menu choices, but the software is not designed for complex indexes or to manage the disposition of messages according to federal records management schedules, said Linda Braun, the senior product manager with the company.

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