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Seagull’s BlueZone: Terminal Emulation with an SOA-Friendly Tip

Customers can service-enable terminal-based applications and effectively transform them into full-fledged SOA assets.

Such is the case with Seagull Software Inc.’s BlueZone Terminal Emulator, which the company positions as the first line of offense in the ongoing SOA-ization of the enterprise. Seagull announced a version 4.0 update for BlueZone in October, touting expanded and enhanced Web-to-host capabilities, improved international support, built-in Web server support, and a host of other features. The idea, officials say, is that customers can service-enable even terminal-based applications, effectively transforming them into full-fledged SOA assets.

“A growing number of BlueZone customers rely on Seagull Software to help them migrate their legacy applications to a more flexible service-oriented architecture,” said Seagull President and CEO Don Addington, in a statement.

If that isn’t enough, Addington says, Seagull is willing to take a hit in its pocketbook—at least relative to what it could charge, vis-à-vis the price of competitive terminal emulation and application modernization solutions—to help grease the wheels for its new BlueZone update. “[T]he newest release of our enterprise terminal emulation solution … is being offered at less than half of competitors’ prices,” Addington indicates. “Our customers have achieved fantastic cost savings by switching from other emulators to … BlueZone.”

Seagull’s pricing scheme isn’t entirely philanthropic, of course. In addition to BlueZone, it markets a line of application modernization, application integration, and service-enablement tools—LegaSuite Integration, LegaSuite GUI, and LegaSuite BPM—which it collectively groups under its LegaSuite brand. (LegaSuite encompasses Seagull J Walk, WinJa, Transidiom, CrossPlex, and Reactor, which were once available as standalone tools.)

Because all BlueZone customers are perforce using legacy applications, Addington sees an opportunity for Seagull to upsell its LegaSuite integration, GUI, and workflow solutions: “[Customers] like having one vendor that can support all of their legacy access and integration needs.”

In addition to its SOA bona fides, BlueZone does terminal emulation, too. Version 4.0 supports S/390 and System z mainframes (as well as VME and other legacy Big Iron systems, too), along with System i5 (nee AS/400) minicomputers and a range of Unix platforms, as well. Each BlueZone license includes support for 3270, 5250, VT and Secure FTP.

Officials say there’s brisk demand for application modernization and service-enablement solutions—such as those marketed by Seagull—which play to the strengths of so-called “legacy” platforms. In other words, says Seagull CIO Andre den Haan, a lot of mainframe customers prefer service-enablement tools that don’t try to abstract—i.e., hide—their mainframe systems.

“I would say the majority of our customers do not take an approach where they say they want to wrap everything in Web services. [On a] project-by-project basis, [they] let the services that they require be prescribed by the type of solution they need to create,” said den Haan, in an interview earlier this year.

The important takeaway, he stressed, is that mainframe customers tend to approach service-enablement (and application modernization) slowly and methodically. For many of them, this means leveraging—to the greatest degree possible—the reliability and performance that have always been mainframe hallmarks. This was one reason why Seagull—which traditionally marketed distributed integration tools—acquired the former SofTouch, a purveyor of an Assembler-based CICS mainframe tool.

“We added that to our [LegaSuite] product portfolio, mainly for our integration solutions, so we can now offer customers deployments where they can [have] Web service enablement on the mainframe itself, or if they choose in a hybrid environment—[they can] offload some of the XML to a distributed environment,” he observes.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at stephen.swoyer@spinkle.net.

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