Conversion Tools Bring AS/400 Apps to Handhelds

To be a competitive executive in the advertising industry, Jeff Shaw needs to constantly review and edit graphical designs and advertising copy on the road.

The task becomes daunting when Shaw, principal at Boston-based Envision Marketing and Design Inc., wants to show the latest version of a new logo in a client's office, even though the artist finished the work only minutes earlier.

Previously, he might have relied on a fax, the client's desktop PC or his own laptop. But now he's trying to simplify the process by going wireless.

For a month, Shaw has been using a Palm VII handheld from Palm Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif., to connect over a wireless network to an IBM AS/400 server in his Boston office.

Less Clunky

"This process is great if you don't have access to a laptop," Shaw said. "And it means you don't even have to carry a laptop, which is clunky and heavy, and you usually have to plug it in to get anything done."Conversion of the "green screen" AS/400 display to the Web and to the wireless format small enough for Shaw's Palm VII is accomplished with Results Quickly-Mobile Express (ResQ/ME) from Inc. in New York.

ResQ/ME was announced in May and is available now; pricing starts at $25,000 for 25 users.

Other Choices

ResQ/ME isn't unique. IBM and Hummingbird Ltd. in Toronto offer products that deliver similar functions, and they actually use the ResQNet technology in those products, said analyst Darcy Fowkes at Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston.

Seagull Technology Inc. in Los Gatos, Calif., and Attachmate Corp. in Bellevue, Wash., also compete in the Web-to-host market, several analysts said.

ResQ/ME brings green-screen data to other handhelds and smart phones, including those based on Microsoft Corp.'s Pocket Pro operating system.

Analysts said they don't have estimates for the wireless portion of the market for software that Web-enables host data, but the overall market totaled $240 million last year, according to International Data Corp. (IDC) in Framingham, Mass. IDC said that number is expected to grow to $1.5 billion in 2004.

Indiana University in Bloomington plans to bring mainframe green screen registration data to Windows-type interfaces for up to 95,000 students in the fall, said Mike Floyd, manager of mainframe server administration.

Floyd is using ResQPortal because it allows the creation of Web-based pages in "hours or days, not weeks or months," he said. The university has purchased ResQ/ME for wireless use and may deploy it to give students the ability to check records - although not to perform actual transactions.

"Wireless registration might be cumbersome since device displays are so small," Floyd said.

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