Avis adds thin clients to mainframe

Power savings with LCDs a bonus

With 1000 staff in 240 locations around Australia, car rental company Avis Australia has modernized its legacy mainframe infrastructure by deploying thin clients to all its branch offices.

Avis' global reservation application, dubbed "Wizard", is used for checking customers in and out and to produce operational reports. Wizard also manages the Avis fleet of vehicles.

The problem for Avis is Wizard only runs on an IBM-compatible mainframe, but is servicing tens of thousands of agents and partners worldwide with real-time data.

Facing increasing communication and support costs due to the reliance on IBM's SNA over DDS in addition to a more contemporary IP network, Avis recognised that running two overlapping networks was unnecessarily expensive.

Avis Australia technical services manager Nick Duddy said the company was happy to invest in technology which allowed standardization on a single network, but the available resources and budget did not allow for a large and prolonged project.

Rather than deploying full PCs, Duddy recommended compatible thin client technology, which requires less administration and maintenance - which is compelling for a central IT department supporting geographically diverse locations.

The Wyse Winterm 3150SE that was selected also has an on-board terminal emulator included in the cost of the unit.

"The Wyse 3150 [has] silent operation and a long lifespan given there is nothing to wear out," he said. "Energy efficiency was a given as the CRT mainframe terminals had a lot of heat coming off them and the thin clients are LCD."

"Our solution made use of existing tn3270 services on our back end and we were able to use the tn3270 terminal emulator that is a standard on the Wyse 3150SE thin client," Duddy said. "No extra software [like] Citrix was needed, making it extremely easy to integrate with our environment and leverage existing knowledge and skills."

Avis has now deployed some 400 of these thin clients across some 150 corporate rental stations.

"Initially, it was a challenge to talk people into because they didn't believe we could so simply replace legacy terminals and controllers with off-the-shelf plug in equipment." Duddy said, adding two years on there is no doubt.

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