NCD WBTs Connect With AS/400

There literally is an AS/400 connection to some of the latest Windows Based Terminals (WBTs) poised to hit the market. Networking Computing Devices Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) announces that its latest WBTs will include three terminal emulation software packages to provide access to AS/400s and other large-scale server environments.

NCD’s ThinStar Connectivity Suite – which includes NCD Thin Client Rumba, NCD ThinStar Connect and NCD Thin Client Xware – is scheduled to ship in the third quarter of 1998.

Created in partnership with Wall Data Inc. (Kirkland, Wash.), NCD Thin Client Rumba for the AS/400 accesses AS/400 data via network-based servers, such as Windows NT, Citrix WinFrame or Citrix MetaFrame. Users can access applications and data on AS/400 host systems, as well as Unix servers, mainframes, HP 3000s and Digital VAX, simultaneously through standard Windows applications.

A similar product in the suite, NCD ThinStar Connect, offers customized terminal emulators that enable NCD’s ThinStar 200 and 300 Series WBTs to access AS/400 and Unix environments. ThinStar Connect emulators reside locally in flash memory and run inside NCD’s ThinStar terminals. NCD ThinStar Connect will be available in two packages, one for 5250 and 3270 client emulators and another for text-based Unix emulators. "By running the NCD ThinStar Connect emulator locally in the NCD ThinStar Windows Based Terminals, users can have direct connection to the legacy systems and minimize NT server load," explains Jim Fulton, VP of product management for NCD.

Both NCD Thin Client Rumba and NCD ThinStar Connect are remarkably similar, observes David Sellinger, network analyst for REI, who sees "no differences between the NCD product and Wall Data version." By using NCD Thin Client Rumba on a server, "we can drastically cut down on our implementation time for Rumba products."

NCD’s Thin Client Xware integrates the company’s PC-Xware X Windows technology, providing PC access to Unix/X11 protocol applications. NCD claims it is the only company offering emulators that link to Microsoft’s Windows Terminal Server Edition (formerly called Hydra), which was unveiled in June. "Users get simultaneous access to Windows and host applications, while IT managers continue to manage their users centrally," Fulton says.

The ThinStar WBTs are based on Intel Corp.’s "lean-client" specifications, according to Fulton. NCD ThinStar terminal products are also among the first to run the Microsoft Windows CE operating system. "We believe that Windows CE is the platform for the future in embedded systems," he says.

The NCD ThinStar 300 line, powered by a 133 MHz Pentium processor, will be generally available by fourth quarter of 1998. The NCD ThinStar 200 runs on a 100 MHz MIPS processor, and is expected to be available by the end of the third quarter. Both terminals support 8 MB of RAM and are expandable to 32 MB. NCD reports it shipped 1,000 terminals to early customers upon the announcement, with "tens of thousands" shipping by mid-summer.

WBTs are expected to comprise a large share of the potential thin-client market. Zona Research (Redwood City, Calif.) calculates that 48 percent of all thin-client shipments in 1997 were for WBTs, as opposed to 17 percent for Java-capable NCs and 26 percent for browser-enabled thin clients. International Data Corp. (Framingham, Mass.) projects five million of a total 6.8 million thin clients shipped by 2002 will be WBTs, versus "pure" NCs.