Perle Acquires Affinity

With its acquisition of the Affinity Systems 5250 emulation card product line from Development Concepts Inc. (DCI) of Lansdale, Pa., Perle Systems Ltd. (Toronto) is poised to extend its host access offerings to the desktop, as well as promote the development IP over Twinax technology.

Although the 5250 emulation product line is now property of Perle Systems, the company plans to continue with the Affinity branding, due largely to its high level of positive name recognition, according to Joe Perle, CEO of Perle Systems.

The acquisition was initiated for strategic reasons, he says. "In the AS/400 market space, we’re well known for selling remote controllers. A large portion of our remote controllers are used with PCs attached with emulation cards. We already sell large volumes of controllers to people who also buy emulation cards from DCI and others."

Also part of Perle Systems’ strategy is the company’s plan to promote IP over Twinax with its line of remote controller devices. IP over Twinax is one way for users to migrate to more advanced technology –such as thin client or IP access from the desktop – without the need to "rip out what they have today in terms of devices, and re-cabling with, say, Ethernet or Token-Ring," Perle says.

"Re-cabling is a very expensive proposition and can be very disruptive," he adds. "So if there’s a solution that allows the user to keep the cabling in place and still get the benefits of the modern technology, that’s a huge appeal."

Perle also points out that, while IBM does offer IP over Twinax on its emulation card line for AS/400, Big Blue does not support IP over Twinax in its remote controllers. "Independent of the Affinity acquisition, we had already planned to release IP over Twinax in the controller, really to extend what IBM had done on the central site to the remote site, or branch office," he says. "It’s a natural progression to support emulation cards that support IP over Twinax."

Perle plans to rapidly integrate the Affinity product line into its global distribution network to grow sales and increase market share for these products within Perle’s expanding customer base of more than 10,000 users. The existing Affinity market also represents a ripe opportunity for Perle to sell its own LAN and AS/400 remote access solutions.

Though Perle Systems assumes responsibility for the Affinity Systems 5250 emulation card product line, including service and support for existing Affinity customers, DCI retains its Windows Based Terminal thin client and its 3270 mainframe emulation product lines, according to Bruce Sarandrea, president of DCI. "We took advantage of an opportunity to divest that product line in order to concentrate on thin client," he says of the acquisition.

DCI will continue to market its Visara Windows Based Terminal (WBT) and 3270 emulation products under its DCI branding, although the Affinity Systems brand name was included as part of the acquisition, according to Sarandrea.

The acquisition of the Affinity Systems line coincides with two other recent announcements from Perle. The company has signed a "non-binding letter of intent" to acquire Specialix International Ltd., a Byfleet, England-based manufacturer of multi-user, network connectivity and remote access solutions that provide connectivity between PCs/server and peripheral devices.

Perle also announces the availability of Version 1.5 of its 833AS Remote Access Switch, designed to bring a new optional Dual T1/PRI Interface Feature Card to the platform. The 833AS can now support up to 92 concurrent dial-in users over ISDN, 90 over 56K, v.90 analog modems, or a mixture of both.