NLynx Gets IDEA For Terminal Solutions

Halfway into its first year as an independent company, NLynx Systems broadens its portfolio of desktop client solutions and wiring products with the acquisition of terminal and thin-client technology from IDEA (Hawthorne, Calif.) and its subsidiary ARANEX.

Since its emergence from Andrew Corp.’s Network Products Division in January, NLynx (Austin, Texas) has continued the NPD’s focus on IBM’s midrange and mainframe desktop market. The acquisition of IDEA’s assets "adds a terminal solution as well as thin client access to the IBM and Wintel worlds," says Jim Robillard, VP of marketing for NLynx.

Increasingly, boundaries between different network types have been stretched, according to Robillard. Though terminal users may not need access to all the applications of a full-function PC, they may benefit from certain GUI applications and e-mail. "We’re providing a bridge for companies who have a large component of IBM-based terminal desktops, yet need access to IP-based connectivity," he says.

In buying IDEA, NLynx adds the following IDEA products to its own lineup: Transaction Station, which allows NLynx to offer traditional dedicated terminals in addition to its current Emerald Series 5250 terminal emulation products; Internet Client Station, which adds thin-client technology to NLynx’s resume; and IDEAConcert controller, which provides end-to-end midrange and mainframe connectivity.

The IDEAConcert controller, in particular, links IBM and IP-connected worlds, Robillard explains. The controller is more than simply a wiring product, "it adds a new level of functionality to our wiring products," he says.

IDEA Transaction Station terminals provide NLynx with a solution for traditional terminal users, while the Internet Client Station is a fit for terminal users who need access to their corporate intranet, e-mail, and occasionally, a Windows application. "This fits with our overall product philosophy of providing solutions for companies whose primary need is for connectivity to IBM midrange or mainframe applications, but who also recognize the importance of IP networking and access to the Windows NT environment," Robillard says.

ARANEX adds its Internet Host Server and Internet Client Stations (ICS) to the mix. While the Host Server acts as Web-to-host middleware, ICS is a form of thin-client network terminal technology, he notes.

NLynx’s acquisition comes in the wake of IDEA’s filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in February. Robillard points out that, over the years, IDEA has built up enough name recognition that NLynx does not have plans to re-brand IDEA products. The ARANEX offerings will, however, eventually be absorbed into NLynx’s branding.

"[This acquisition] may suggest that IBM is getting more competitive with third-party vendors in the AS/400 market," says Sam Alunni, VP of networking for Sterling Research (Sterling, Mass.). "It may also be a case of companies consolidating resources in anticipation of IBM stepping up its own efforts. IBM is in the position to change the rules and eliminate niche players since it actually manufactures the AS/400."

Robillard disagrees, saying that IBM "is in a different category than NLynx or any of its competitors." While IBM is able to offer a variety of products in just about every area of networking, companies like NLynx focus on a particular segment of the market, he says. "Although terminal- and Twinax-related products are not new technology, there is still a need for them."