Nexor delivers Unix client for Exchange

Nexor Inc., a United Kingdom-based company specializing in electronic messaging and directory systems, last week announced the release of a software product that enables a Unix workstation to serve as a client to a Microsoft Corp. Exchange server.

Microsoft tapped Nexor to develop the new product, called Defender for Motif, largely in response to pressure Microsoft had received from Defense Department users, where Unix still competes strongly with Windows NT.

Nexor officials say the product supports DOD's secure Defense Messaging System and has undergone extensive interoperability tests at Microsoft's DMS facilities in Redmond, Wash.

Defender for Motif provides a path for federal agencies that have a high level of DMS and Exchange server deployment to migrate to the Microsoft platform, said Tim Dioquino, DMS product manager at Microsoft's federal division. The product has the look and feel of Outlook, so agencies will not need to retrain their personnel if they decide to migrate, Dioquino added.

"This talks directly to an Exchange server. Customers can use this for two, three years and give [themselves] a strategy to go all Microsoft if that's the case without having to reinvest," Dioquino said. "My next step is to work on getting the Nexor product on the DMS contract."

Microsoft and Nexor have lined up a number of government organizations, including the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and various groups within the Air Force, Army and Navy, to back the companies' request that DMS contractor Lockheed Martin Federal Systems test the product and add it to the contract.

But Lockheed Martin has no plans to test Defender for Motif at this time. Poul Jorgensen, DMS evolution program manager at Lockheed Martin Federal Systems, said he has seen a press release on Defender for Motif but has not scheduled it for testing.

"Right now we are focused on testing products that are part of the DMS program," Jorgensen said.

Microsoft said in May that it was putting together a Unix version of its messaging software after the Army decided to use Lotus Development Corp. messaging products in its strategic program for deploying commercial hardware and software to the battlefield.

The Army decided to base its Army Battle Command System (ABCS) on secure messaging software from Lotus running on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris, a Unix operating system, and cited security as the chief reason it did not select Exchange messaging software and the Windows NT operating system.

ABCS workstations are at the core of the Army's Force XXI initiative, which aims to use commercial networks, computers and other technologies in the battlefield. Soldiers will be able to use the workstations to access information about troop location and strength, logistics support and other command and control data.

Microsoft feared the Army's ABCS decision would affect support for Exchange at Army bases where the Microsoft product provides the messaging backbone but where Unix systems occupy a large portion of the desktops.

In a separate announcement, Nexor, which has its U.S. office in Gaithersburg, Md., announced Nexor Interceptor, a new secure messaging solution designed to help organizations cope with the increasing volume of e-mail messages.

Nexor Interceptor's intelligent features analyze the content of e-mail messages and their attachments using pattern-recognition technology provided by Autonomy Inc., said Ed Harrington, Nexor's vice president of business development and strategy.

The software uses neural network technology to sort the e-mail and attachments that arrive at a generic e-mail address, such as those hotlinked at agency World Wide Web sites. For example, Nexor Interceptor is able to learn to send resumes to a human resources department and complaints to a manager. Interceptor works as a gatekeeper, scanning e-mail for viruses, filtering out junk e-mail and monitoring outgoing e-mail.

Nexor combined existing software with Autonomy and security services to create Nexor Interceptor, Harrington said. The existing software has been installed at the central banks of eight European Union countries as part of the systems they rely on to communicate with each other and with the EU's central bank. Five other EU countries are either waiting to install it or negotiating with Nexor to buy it, said Harrington, who has begun marketing Interceptor to U.S. government agencies.

Nexor is working with partners to place the product, which will be available at the end of September, on a General Services Administration schedule. The company is also working on its own GSA schedule.

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