Published: August 14, 2012

by Alex Woodie

In mid-July, IBM made available for download the technology preview of IBM i Access Client Solutions, a new Java-based version of the IBM i Access emulator that can run on Mac, Linux, and Windows. The new offering addresses two difficulties faced by IBM: keeping users of its Windows-based i Access current, and offering an emulator for non-Windows devices.

IBM first announced IBM i Access Client Solutions in April as part of its IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 4 (TR) release. The big news in TR4 was Live Partition Mobility (LPM), a must-have feature for the new cloud world. But buried further down in the announcement was the new cross-platform 5250 emulator, which bears the IBM product ID 5733-XJ1.

IBM i Access Client Solutions should look, feel, and behave much like the other members of the IBM i Access family, including IBM i Access for Windows, IBM i Access for Linux, and IBM i Access for Web. The software provides 5250 display and printer emulation based on IBM’s Host-on-Demand software, and a 5250 session manager modeled after IBM Personal Communications’ (PCOMM’s) Session Manager.

The new software supports multiple concurrent 5250 sessions, and supports multiple languages. It includes data transfer capabilities that are similar to those of IBM i Access for Windows. It also supports OpenDocument spreadsheet (*.ods), Excel Workbook (*.xlsx), and other file formats.

IBM developed IBM i Access Client Solutions in response to feedback from customers who weren’t satisfied with the existing IBM i Access products, says Tim Rowe, IBM’s business architect for IBM i.

“The IBM Access for Windows product has been a successful and widely used product,” Rowe tells IT Jungle via email. “We have had many complaints with this product regarding two primary areas: Issues with keeping the PC install base at the correct levels (much of this revolves around the difficulty and time it takes for the PC install process) the other area is for our customers that don’t use a Windows-based device. Since this new support is written as a pure Java application it runs equally as well on Linux and Apple Mac.”

The technology preview of the new product can be freely downloaded by IBM i customers with a current maintenance contract at www-03.ibm.com/systems/power/software/i/access/solutions.html. The technology preview will run through April 2013, Rowe says.

Rowe says the primary functions of the product at this point are in providing 5250 emulation and data transfer capabilities. “These are the primary functions that will be in the full product. Other functions will be determined based on time and customer feedback,” he says.

In addition to the features mentioned above, IBM i Access Client Solutions includes a virtual control panel with a GUI interface to the IBM i control panel, and 5250 emulation for LAN console control. It also provides for consolidation of hardware management interface configurations, including ASMI, IVM, and HMC, IBM says. The software uses the same IBM i host servers as the other IBM i Access Family products and requires the same IBM i Access Family license (XW1) in order to use the 5250 emulation and data transfer features.

For more information on IBM i Access Client Solutions, see the July 2012 technology preview announcement and the IBM i 7.1 TR4 software Announcement from April 24.
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Editor: Alex Woodie
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