Rocket Rebrands, Updates, and Discounts Terminal Emulator
January 27, 2021 Alex Woodie
Greenscreen interfaces may not look pretty, but they continue to be effective and people continue to use them. That longevity among IBM i and System Z shops is a big reason why Rocket Software last week decided to rebrand its BlueZone offering as the Rocket Terminal Emulator. Rocket is trying to drum up interest in the new software, which also supports the latest security protocols, by offering a steep discount on license and subscription fees, but only for a limited time.
BlueZone, which Rocket Software obtained with its 2006 acquisition of Seagull Software, has been the go-to product for Rocket customers who need a TN5250 emulator to access IBM i system screens and applications that have yet to be modernized with a modern desktop, Web, or mobile interface. In addition to BlueZone, Rocket owned the Passport line of terminal emulation software, as well as WebConnect, which it acquired in 2020. The latter two emulators are popular among System Z shops.
The new Rocket Terminal Emulator is largely based on the BlueZone product, but it offers out-of-the-box support for all three emulators, says Chris Wey, the president of the Power Business Unit at Rocket Software.
“BlueZone has been the foundation, but we’re bringing that innovation from all of the various acquisitions and we’re helping customer with the migration process,” Wey tells IT Jungle. “We’ve renamed BlueZone to Rocket Terminal Emulator, and then building off that capability so that it’s basically a seamless upgrade for BlueZone, Passport, and Web Connect customers.”
All of the custom settings, macros, hot-keys, printer configurations, and colors that BlueZone, Passport, and WebConnect users had set up in their old emulators will be brought forward when they upgrade to the new Rocket Terminal Emulator, Wey says. The upgrade process itself is completed from a graphical administrative console in a very short amount of time, he says.
“We’re making it very simple and intuitive, with a point-and-click graphical walk through,” he says. “You have your configuration screen. You launch our new Rocket Terminal Emulator, and you can essentially click ‘next, next, next,’ and you bring forward all of your settings. . . It’s essentially a wizard like function to bring all those capabilities through.”
The company is also hoping to attract users of competitive emulators to its new offering. IBM may have been a formidable competitor among paid 5250, 3270, and VT100 offerings in the past. But today, the only real competition that Rocket faces comes from Micro Focus and its RUMBA line of products for IBM i, Wey says.
One functional area that has been enhanced is security. The new emulator offers expanded support for multi-factor authentication (MFA), including use of Okta and Duo, which are two popular providers of cloud-based MFA.
“We’re seeing more customers using MFA environments, so we’re offering integration with Oka and Duo,” Wey says. “IT departments are installing these MFA system across their enterprises, and this enables you to put that MFA directly integrated with our Rocket Terminal Emulator portfolio support that MF or IBM i access.”
The new Rocket Terminal Emulator comes in two editions: desktop and Web. The desktop version supports Windows, MacOS, and Linux workstations, while the Web client is supported on all major Web browsers for PCs, smart phones, and tablets, Wey says.
Rocket is offering up to a 50 percent discount for new users who adopt Rocket Terminal Emulator, or for customers who move from another product. That deal is good through the end of June, Wey says.
Rocket has been quite active in helping IBM i and System Z shops modernize their existing applications. It offers 5250 screen transformation, Web interface generation, and business process automation through the LegaSuite tools, which is also a product of its Seagull acquisition.
While legacy modernization is important, it would be folly to expect IBM i and System Z shops to transform all of their green screens, Wey says. There will always be demand for terminal emulators that allow users to access the system and application screens that have not been transformed into modern Web UIs.
“Many of these legacy applications 20,000 or 30,000 screens,” Wey says. “And when you think about the work effort involved in the legacy modernization application, you may decide to only modernize a small portion of that legacy application, and not every single screen. I think that justifies the idea that those terminal emulator connections are going to be around for years. You’re always going to have a corner case that isn’t in the modern application where there’s an exception process that needs to be done, and so those terminal emulators are required.”