CLI Thins Out With AS/400 Ethernet Link

If you’ve ever spent ten hours trying to hook up an Ethernet connection to your IBM network, this could be your lucky day.

At least, that’s the word from San Francisco-based Computer Lab International Inc., which recently rolled out an Ethernet terminal -- the latest addition to its CLI suite of AS/400 terminal products. According to CLI Technical Director Mike Franke, the company’s new Ethernet box – AKA the ET2000 -- is an idea whose time has come. "People are spending way too much time trying to install IBM network computers," Franke says. "There’s just no need for it, especially when you consider that there’s an easier way to configure TCP/IP devices."

CLI’s solution is a thin client device the company says is the first of its kind to provide Ethernet connectivity to an AS/400 terminal. The product features TCP/IP, TN5250 and TN5250E protocols for AS/400 connectivity, and also supports 3270 and Unix open systems, according to Franke. The thin client device cuts maintenance and installation time down by a low-maintenance recipe that includes the elimination of: complex boot servers (the terminals power on with a sign-on screen just like a Twinax terminal); high price controllers (by using an inexpensive network router); and costly new wiring.

The new terminals also include an active printer port and additional features that currently exist on CLI’s 5250 terminals, such as a wide variety of keyboards, display sizes and modular design packages. The ET2000 also supports all SCS (Twinax data stream) features, including a printer function that when linked with the ET2000 sustains all the functionality it would if the box were connected to Twinax.

"What we really like is that the traditional heavy learning curve has been eliminated with the ET2000 terminal," Franke adds. "I had one customer call me all frustrated and angry because she had spent a whole day trying to install her IBM networked computer. She was really throwing a fit. I sent her the ET2000 and she had it up and running in 10 minutes – even though she had set aside four hours for the installation. She couldn’t believe that the terminal was as easy to set up and administer as a Twinax terminal."

So far, resellers are giving a thumb-up to the new CLI Ethernet terminals. "We’ve only been associated with CLI for three months," explains Rick Eisenberg, a VP/midrange systems reseller with Ultimate Data, a Lakeworth, Fla.-based reseller. "We used to be in the business of selling new and refurbished IBM midrange systems. But when we saw a need for a replacement terminal device that could link to an AS/400 network environment, we were blown away by the ET2000."

Eisenberg says the CLI box is even more impressive when the lackluster sales of thin client devices is thrown into the mix. "Thin clients haven’t really been successful," he says. "It’s just a difficult technology to deploy. But the ET2000 is selling as an Ethernet-attached dumb terminal, a product for which there is great demand. So far our tests are telling us that customers like it for its performance and also for the fact that it’s easier and less expensive than setting up a personal computer or a thin client."