When IBM put the spotlights on the AS/400e series and OS/400 V4R1 back on August 19, it also used the announcement to make some important changes to its Client Access/400 family of products. Those changes present customers with choices they didnt have before the announcement.
In case you havent yet had a chance to wade through the piles of announcement news, let me explain the parts that will have the biggest impact on Client Access/400 users. IBM made two simple, yet strategic changes to Client Access/400. First, it shipped Client Access/400 Enhanced for Windows 3.1, the refreshed Windows 3.1 client that has been available as a downloadable beta version on the AS/400 Divisions Web site. Figure 1 shows the enhancements the new client offers.
Second, the company split the Client Access/400 product line into two licensed packages, shown in Figure 2. The AS/400 Client Access Family for Windows contains Client Access/400 for Windows 95/NT and Client Access/400 Enhanced for Windows 3.1. The AS/400 Client Access Family contains the old Windows 3.1 client plus the OS/2 and DOS clients.
There are several things you need to know about the two Client Access/400 packages to understand their significance. Heres a short list.
The new packages are available for CISC and RISC systems running OS/400 Version 3 and for RISC systems running OS/400 V4R1. See the table in Figure 3 for details.
Initial orders for either package cost $275 per user. Customers who buy or upgrade to one package can run any of its clients, but none of the clients in the other package.
Owners of existing Client Access/400
Version 3 licenses (IBM Licensed Program Products 5763-XA1 or S716-XA1) can upgrade all their current licenses to the new packages at no charge, provided the new packages are also Version 3 licenses. Any additional users cost $275 each.
If V3 license holders upgrade to either of the V4R1 versions, they must pay $55 for each current user and any additional users up to the maximum chargeable number of users for their software group.
PC Support/400 license holders can also upgrade to the new packages at a cost of $55 per user per package (for Version 3) or $82 per user (for V4R1). Owners of Personal Communications for AS/400 can upgrade at a cost of $195 per user per package. Whats important to note about the new Client Access/400 packaging is that it gives Windows 3.1 users two choices. They can either get the old Windows 3.1 client in AS/400 Client Access Family or the new one in AS/400 Client Access Family for Windows. The choice is a crucial one because of two important differences between the clients. First, the old client uses Wall Datas RUMBA/400 for a graphical interface, while the new one uses IBMs PC5250 GUI. Second, IBM does not intend to enhance the old client but will continue to enhance the new one.
These two differences are the key to understanding IBMs Client Access/400 strategy. Put plainly, Big Blue wants to keep its Windows 3.1 customers from jumping to a competitors AS/400 connectivity software when they move to Windows 95 or NT. To do this, IBM is offering them a free upgrade to a more feature-rich Windows 3.1 client plus free clients for Windows 95 and NT. All the users have to do is give up their old RUMBA/400 GUI and embrace PC5250. Once this is done, users will likely stick with Client Access/400 as they upgrade to 32-bit Windows clients. They wont have the old RUMBA/400 interface to entice them into buying a Wall Data alternative.
For many users, this will likely be the best migration strategy. After all, the enhanced Windows 3.1 client includes a utility that migrates RUMBA/400 profile icons, workstation profiles, print pro-files, and keyboard mappings to their PC5250 equivalents. The only things that dont migrate are RUMBA/400 macros.
However, before you place that upgrade order, lets consider the announcement that Wall Data made last week. As youll see, the connectivity vendor is eager to provide you with a Client Access/400 alternative.
Wall Datas New RUMBA Takes on Client Access/400
Immediately following the announcement, Wall Data told the world in no uncertain terms that it would fight with IBM to maintain its share of the AS/400 connectivity market. The Washington-based vendor unveiled RUMBA Access/400 95/NT Version 5.2, a full- featured product for 32-bit Windows clients that offers important advances over the previous release.
The new RUMBA client excels in three areas: performance, flexibility, and Web connectivity. Lets take a look at each area.
To ensure high throughput levels over TCP/IP networks, the new release adds native TCP/IP support for shared folders, data queues, and the ODBC driver. Previous versions of these facilities used IBMs AnyNet TCP/IP, which is much slower than native TCP/IP. In addition, the new ODBC driver uses the OS/400 Optimized Server for TCP/IP to get dramatically better database access performance. In its tests, Wall Data has gotten up to 3000 percent improvements over the old AnyNet-based driver.
The new RUMBA release dances well with a variety of technological partners. It will work with IBMs Client Access/400 ODBC driver, as well as Wall Datas driver. It
adds support for NetSofts NS/Router as well as Walls RUMBA Router. If youre upgrading from Client Access/400 for Windows 3.1, it will fully support any calls within your applications to 16-bit Client Access/400 (or PC Support/400) APIs. By contrast, you have to rewrite your 16-bit Client Access/400 applications when you upgrade to a 32-bit Client Access/400 client.
RUMBA Access/400 95/NT now includes Internet Companion, which lets you access AS/400s via the Web using Microsofts Internet Explorer browser. Internet Companion lets you establish persistent TN5250 sessions with AS/400s, access the World Wide Web, perform FTP file transfers, and participate in newsgroups. If Internet Companion meets all your AS/400 access needs, you can install it on your system without the other RUMBA components.
Wall Datas Value Proposition According to my sources inside Wall Data, the company is setting its new product squarely against IBMs Client Access/400. In its competitive analyses, Wall Data is making the
RUMBA offers built-in support for printing over TCP/IP. Client Access/400 does not.
RUMBAs new ODBC driver is up to 18 percent faster than Client Access/400 ODBC over direct TCP/IP connections. Customers who want to compare the two drivers can run both with RUMBA.
While RUMBA offers full support for legacy 16-bit applications, Client Access/400 requires customers to rewrite their applications for 32-bit Windows.
With its Internet Companion and powerful file transfer options, RUMBA is a more feature-rich client than Client Access/400. And since RUMBA has been in the field longer than Client Access/400, its a more stable and reliable product. In short, Wall Data will tell customers that RUMBA Access/400 95/NT is a far better 32-bit Windows client than Client Access/400. It will also tell Client Access/400 for Windows 3.1 users that, instead of moving to IBMs enhanced Windows 3.1 client, they should move to Walls 16-bit client and upgrade when ready to RUMBA Access/400 95/NT. This path will preserve their 16-bit applications and let them avoid retraining users on the PC5250 interface.
Of course, such an upgrade path has a price tag. That makes it tough for Wall Data to win over Client Access/400 for Windows 3.1 customers, as they can move their current users for free to the enhanced Client Access/400 for Windows 3.1 client and get the Windows 95/NT clients at no charge. There are scenarios, however, in which a Client Access/400 upgrade is not free. For instance, Version 3 customers must pay $275 for each new user. If they upgrade to OS/400 V4R1, they must pay $55 per user for the maximum number of chargeable users in their software group.
In those cases where a Client Access/400 upgrade incurs such charges, Wall Data has a chance to be price-competitive. The vendor has mounted a Move Up to RUMBA promotion that gives customers who switch to RUMBA an unlimited number of 16-bit and 32-bit Windows clients for a single price. In many cases, those prices are not much higher than those that Client Access/400 customers face if they must pay upgrade charges. Wall Datas prices for new RUMBA seats are also highly competitive with Client Access/400 prices.
In my opinion, Client Access/400 customers who are considering IBMs new Client Access/400 packages owe it to themselves to check out Wall Datas RUMBA proposition. In the end, you may still decide that Client Access/400 remains your best connectivity bet. By checking out the competition, however, youll become a savvier
customer. You may even win a few concessions from your IBM representative or Business Partner along the way.
¥ Support for native TCP/IP ¥ PC5250 terminal emulation ¥ Remote Hayes AutoSync connections ¥ Installation from AS/400 to clients ¥ Ability to run from a server or the network ¥ Multiple communications configurations ¥ Multiple concurrent communications protocols ¥ Data transfer and database access applications ¥ More modern interfaces
Figure 1: Whats New in CA/400 Enhanced for Windows 3.1
CISC Systems RISC Systems RISC Systems
(OS/400 V3) (OS/400 V3) (OS/400 V4R1) Old Licensed Programs 5763-XA1 5716-XA1 N/A
¥ Contain all CA/400 clients
¥ CA/400 release levels (not OS/400 releases) V3R1, V3R2 V3R6, V3R7 N/A
¥ Date for withdrawal from marketing 12/12/97 12/12/97 N/A
¥ Date for service discontinuance
(3.01, 3.02, 3.06) 10/31/98 10/31/98 N/A
¥ Date for service discontinuance
(3.07) N/A 6/30/99 N/A
New Licensed Programs
¥ AS/400 Client Access Family for Windows Contains NT/95 and Enhanced 3.1 clients 5763-XW1 5716-XW1 5769-XW1
¥ AS/400 Client Access Family Contains old Windows 3.1, DOS, and OS/2 clients 5763-XY1 5716-XY1 5769-XY1
¥ General availability dates 9/12/97 9/12/97 8/29/97
Figure 2: Old and New Client Access/400 PackagingA Transition Chart
New Packages Revised Packages Application Development ToolSet Plus ValuPak for AS/400
Application Development ToolSet for AS/400 OS/400
Application Dictionary Services/400 AS/400 Client Access Family for Windows2
Application Development Manager/400 Query for AS/400
Application Development ToolSet Client/Server DB2 Query Manager and SQL Development Kit for CODE/400 AS/400 Printer Services Facility/400, 1-19 images VisualAge for RPG per minutes (IPM)3
Performance Tools for AS/4003 ValuPak for AS/400 Printing GrowthPak for AS/400 AFP Utilities for AS/400 All the products in ValuPak for AS/400 (except PSF/400)
AFP Font Collection Language Dictionary for AS/400
AFP PrintSuite OfficeVision for AS/400
Operations Productivity Pak1
Job Scheduler for AS/400
Backup Recovery and Media Services for AS/400
ADSTAR Distributed Storage Manager for AS/400
1 Operations Productivity Pak is only available for AS/400s in the P20 to P40 software groups running V3R7 or V4R1.
2 Replaces Client Access for OS/400 in both ValuPak and GrowthPak for AS/400.
3 Newly added to ValuPak AS/400.
Figure 3: New and Revised AS/400 Software Packages for V3R2, V3R7, and V4R1 Systems