Siskin Steel & Supply Co. (www.siskin.com) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Steel & Aluminum. Siskin’s office is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the company’s largest steel service center is located. Siskin also has branch service centers in Birmingham, Alabama, Nashville, Tennessee and Spartanburg, South Carolina. In addition, Siskin operates a service center in Morristown, Tennessee, under the name of East Tennessee Steel Supply and in Atlanta, Georgia, under the name of Georgia Steel Supply.
With such a large company operating from so many remote locations, communication is important. And when your terminal emulation product suddenly becomes obsolete and unsupported, you need to find a new solution.
Requisite: NX/View was no longer being supported, therefore becoming obsolete.
Proposal: Switch to T27 eXpress Plus from KMSYS Worldwide
Conclusion: Successful transition to a new product that has a definite future.
The problem was that NX/View, Siskin’s terminal emulation product, was no longer being supported, therefore becoming obsolete. Siskin needed to find a replacement that was cost effective, easy to configure for their 250+ users and quick to learn.
We spoke with Mr. Danny Wooten — a man who wears many hats in Siskin: network engineering and operations, system software management on the Unisys mainframe, web site development and maintenance, emptying garbage cans, vacuuming floors, etc…. (His words, not ours -ed.).
Siskin uses a new Unisys Libra 590 mainframe to process well over 95% of their business-critical processes. This includes quotes and order processing and all of their warehousing operations, accounting, payroll and shop floor. Since an NX/View-like application was not included with the new mainframe, they needed to find a new terminal emulation solution.
Try a free evaluation and see why KMSYS Worldwide has the best T27 and UTS terminal emulation solutions.
After hearing about KMSYS Worldwide at a UNITE conference, Siskin Steel decided to try the T27 eXpress terminal emulation product. Following a free evaluation of the products, and a personal visit from the staff of KMSYS Worldwide, Siskin felt that the T27 eXpress line met their demands and were adequately priced.
When asked why Siskin chose KMSYS Worldwide’s eXpress products over competitors’ offerings, Mr. Wooten said, “Quite simply: pricing and deployability. We were looking for an inexpensive replacement for our terminal emulator that could be deployed across the enterprise with relative ease.” Working closely with Siskin developers, the KMSYS Worldwide technical support staff was able to put together a deployment package that included over one hundred of Siskin’s commonly used macros that allowed users to simply pick and choose the macros to assign to programmable keys. “This ability greatly reduced the amount of time we would have had to spend installing the application on all of our workstations,” Mr. Wooten added.
Installation and configuration for the entire project was much easier than expected. As Mr. Wooten explains, “Being able to assemble a standard distribution package, complete with all of our custom key programming, saved us a lot of time over the option of having to install the product one workstation at a time, and then spending a lot of time customizing each station. Generally, we were able to install the new product, change the station name, and program all of the user’s keys to match the old NX/View settings in 5-10 minutes per workstation.”
As with most new products, the transition from one with which you already are familiar, to something new, does come with its share of growing pains. But T27 eXpress is able to soften the blow. “At first, most users were resistant to change and we had to overcome the problem of users wanting the new application to be EXACTLY like the old one,” Mr. Wooten explains. ”After using the product for a few days, we found many of our users were already putting some of the new features to use in creative ways.”
Siskin’s “Road Warrior” users particularly like the product because of the better connection method via Telnet[TCP/IP]. The “named pipes” method in NX/View had often given their mobile users a very difficult time connecting. As Mr. Wooten explains, “This was a real source of headaches for dial-in and VPN users, in that we had to maintain an LMHOST file on each user’s PC to get the named pipe connections to (halfway) work properly. Now, we can simply point the terminal emulator to our DNS-style server name and it connects the first time.”
So, were the final results something that Siskin Steel and Supply were happy with?
We were dissatisfied with our previous emulation services vendor. They were responsive enough to our requests for service or information, but their yearly maintenance was quite expensive. Also, because all communications with the mainframe had to go through their proprietary server, that little server represented a single point of failure that we were increasingly unable to abide. The last straw, however, was that if we wanted to upgrade to a Unisys Libra mainframe, we would have to purchase additional equipment at a significant price, just to be able to keep using our old vendor’s emulator.
As Mr. Wooten states, “The transition to the T27 eXpress IT was smooth enough that most users adapted very quickly to the new product. We have even had a few users take advantage of the macro features to streamline repetitive data entry tasks.”
For more information, please visit the T27 terminal emulation pages on our web site at www.kmsys.com.