Wyse Stretches Thin Client to the AS/400

While the Network Computer (NC) paradigm wallows in a sea of disinterest, one thin client developer has devised a way to meet the needs of legacy users with its Windows Based Terminals (WBTs).

Wyse Technology (San Jose, Calif.) has announced a TN3270/TN5250 terminal emulation package for its Winterm WBTs. This software is designed to enable a migration path from midrange and mainframe systems to Windows, while still retaining access to mission-critical legacy applications.

Wyse positions this new software feature as a solution that provides an alternative to replacing aging terminals and PCs with more of the same. While newer terminals limit a company’s ability to migrate applications to Windows, PCs with terminal emulators bring with them the burden of managing a fat-client desktop environment.

The TN3270/TN5250 software resides directly in the Winterm’s flash memory, and network administrators can install the software into the terminal either across the network using WyseWorks Remote Administrator or from a laptop PC. The TN3270 emulation supports local printing, and both the midrange and mainframe emulators are capable of running multi-sessions.

"Customers in the finance and manufacturing industries are anxious to adopt WBTs, but are working off mainframes and midrange servers," says Jeff McNaught, senior director and general manager of Wyse. "They want to be able to support these existing legacy applications while making the move to WBTs."

To compete in the growing thin-client market, Wyse designed the 3270/5250 emulation capability so data does not have to be routed through a PC server to reach the terminal user. While the Winterm does not run the legacy emulation locally on the client, there is an "emulation code stub" that must be installed on the desktop for the device to recognize 3270 or 5250, McNaught says. No additional software is needed on the server, however.

Though the concept of loading software on the desktop stretches the definition of "thin client," McNaught points out that applications still do not actually run on the desktop. The software is simply providing hooks from the desktop to different locations within the main server, he notes.

The TN3270/TN5250 software works only with Winterm 2310/15SE, 2510/15SE, 2610SE and 2710/15SE devices, and Wyse offers software upgrades that enable older versions of these devices to handle 3270/5250 emulation. Both 3270 and 5250 emulation are bundled within the same software, which McNaught believes is particularly useful for customers with mixed environments. "We’re reacting to customers that want WBT while keeping their 3270 and 5250 emulation," he says.

The new software works in conjunction with Wyse’s fail-over technology, which works on the client side to enable a Winterm device to intuitively determine the health of a WinFrame or Terminal Server Edition server. When a server is down due to fault or maintenance, for example, the Winterm device automatically connects to alternate servers or changes protocols, without operator or administrator assistance.

All of Wyse’s WBTs operate with Citrix Systems Inc.’s WinFrame and MetaFrame thin-client/server software. This WinTerm/MetaFrame combination provides WBT users with features such as load-balancing, extended local peripheral support, 16-bit stereo support and enterprise application publishing.

Wyse’s high-end Winterm 2000 family of WBTs will feature optional embedded 3270/5250 terminal emulation. The TN3270/TN5250 solution is priced at $295 for a five-seat license, or a cost per user of $59.