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Xerox cutting down on duplication? The seemingly bizarre thought makes sense in light of the most recent alliance announced between Xerox and Novell.

The Provo-based network giant and the world expert on work with documents announced their strategic alliance Wednesday at the inaugural NetWorld+Interop 94 trade show in Las Vegas.At the same time, the two companies introduced plans to release newly developed software known as DEN or Document Enabled Net-work-ing.

Through DEN, a consumer would be able to find information under a variety of names or subject indexes, regardless of format or the program the information exists within.

"Much like the line of the ancient mariner, `Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink,' we today have information everywhere, and the challenge companies face is in dealing with the mounting volume," said Richard W. King, Novell executive vice president of network systems.

"We are glad to announce this relationship, which will focus on a partnership to provide solutions to this customer challenge."

King said a company's most valuable assets are in its documentation, and it is critical to provide easy access to that information.

Too often, he said, an employee will know the information is there but spend fruitless hours searching to find it.

Peter van Cuylenburg, executive vice president for Xerox Corp., said the introduction of DEN kicks off the beginning of the most exciting phase of computer development.

"We're working together to create a framework and new tools," said van Cuylenburg. "We recognize the importance of networking, of open architecture, the need to make it easier for the customer to access his information."

Security would be provided through the safeguards already on Novell's NetWare programs, said Robert Young, vice president of product management.

Workloads for projects involving repetition could be cut in half, said Young, by making it possible to retrieve the information already on file and seam it into a new document.

"This is a very powerful idea, one that will provide very real customer benefits," said Young.

Earlier, Novell and AT&T had announced a similar partnership plan, that of sharing networking expertise and telecommunications capabilities to expand computer industry horizons.

The NetWorld+Interop 94 conference drew nearly twice the anticipated number of participants. By Wednesday the head count was more than 100,000 guests.

WordPerfect had sent more than 1.6 million electronic mail messages over their clustered terminals, in a promotional effort to introduce WordPerfect Office and messaging center capabilities.

The 600 exhibitors at the fair were linked in a first-ever show-wide InteropNet system - more than 62 miles of unshielded twisted-pair wire, 30 miles of optical fiber, two miles of shielded-pair cable and five miles of coaxial cable.

The conference continues through Friday.