Micro Focus Emulation Software Brings Windows 7 Support, New Interface
December 15, 2009 Dan Burger
The latest terminal emulation suite from Micro Focus was introduced last week with support for Microsoft Windows 7 being the showcased prize that comes with RUMBA 8. The popular software that connects PC-based users to applications running on IBM i-based Power Systems servers (AS/400, iSeries, and System i) is also being touted for its redesigned user interface and productivity upgrades. Along with the new RUMBA, Micro Focus announced the availability of Web-to-Host 6, its newest browser-based terminal emulator.
When dealing with terminal emulation customers where processing speed is a priority, Windows 7 support will bring back-end diagnostics that will speed resolution of application hiccups. Specifically a built-in piece called the Problem Step Recorder that records the steps that led to the problem and helps reach a solution to the problem more quickly.
“We are seeing more customers than expected who are using Windows 7 at this point. I thought the pickup for Windows 7 would be a little slow, but it’s actually much quicker than we’ve seen in the past,” says Archie Roboostoff, product marketing director at Micro Focus. “The customers so far have said, ‘We love the new look and feel. We love the new ribbon interface.'”
“The Problem Step Recorder is something our support guys will be leveraging quite a bit,” Roboostoff added.
RUMBA has been around for many years. When it was first introduced, it was one of the first terminal emulators to embrace the 16-bit Windows operating system. The changes since then were built on top of the older components. The RUMBA 8 release is said to be rebuilt from the ground up and takes advantage of the new Microsoft technologies, particularly in regard to the user interface, which is a noticeable enhancement.
Productivity upgrades come primarily from the capabilities to record, edit, and manipulate the scripts and macros that end users utilize–the things that make repetitive tasks faster through the use a button.
“We found that, although everybody uses macros and wants to use macros, not everybody was in a position to create the macros,” Roboostoff says. “We tried to make it like a wizard, but it was still pretty difficult for the common knowledge worker. Now it is more wizard-driven, more intuitive, and more available via the ribbon interface in a context-sensitive circumstance where it pops up and walks the user through the process.”
Micro Focus offers two flavors of its Web to Host product, which is now available in release 6. There’s one for the Microsoft world and another for the Java world. Roboostoff says the IBM i customers are split equally on either side of that divide, but the larger customers tend toward Java.
Web to Host and RUMBA share many libraries, so the launch of RUMBA brings a similar launch on the Web to Host side. Everything that is new in RUMBA is available in Web to Host. The differences are in the specific Java features–one is support for Firefox, which has gained popularity among Micro Focus enterprise customers.
Another key enhancement on the Java side of Web to Host involves the capability to open multiple sessions without degrading performance each time a connection to a backend system is connected. It’s a memory saver and a performance upgrade that should be widely appreciated.
“In the AS/400 installed base, the Web to Host users outnumber the RUMBA users,” Roboostoff says. “But most customers choose to have both. The common processors will get straight Web to Host, but the power users–the guys doing the scripts and macros and who need all the functionality–will be using RUMBA.”
In addition to IBM i, RUMBA also connects to business applications on systems that include including IBM mainframe, DEC VAX, Hewlett-Packard, and Unix systems. Single sign on support for Unix platforms in RUMBA 8 is a big deal, but it’s been there for AS/400 customers for some time.
Micro Focus obtained RUMBA with its purchase of NetManage in May 2008. Since that time it has worked on rebranding RUMBA with the Micro Focus name.