Seagull Lets Handheld Users Tap Legacy Apps

FRAMINGHAM (08/02/2000) - Web software maker Seagull Software Systems Inc. wants to let wireless users access mainframe or AS/400 server resources without having to rewrite legacy host applications.

The firm recently announced its Wireless-to-Host software, which promises to let mobile users access legacy software and do transactions in real time.

Wireless-to-Host acts as a gateway between servers and users employing cell phones and PalmPilots or Windows-based pocket PCs. Customers will be able to tie wireless devices to legacy resources without extensive software retooling.

The product consists of two components - the Wireless-to-Host server and a development tool kit. The server is available in two flavors: one for Java users, the other for those who prefer to use ActiveX's Component Object Model (COM) scripts. The Wireless-to-Host server resides on AS/400 or mainframe hosts, or on an intermediate Windows NT or 2000, or Unix box, says Brett Roeder, director of wireless product marketing at Seagull.

The server component takes back-end accounting or sales applications and data and puts a Wireless Markup Language or HTML wrapper on them and sends them over the 'Net. The traffic is picked up by a service provider, which will send it to end users in HTML or, for cell phones, convert it to the Wireless Application Protocol format for delivery, Roeder says.

Competitors such as Inc. and IBM Corp. offer similar wireless-to-host products. IBM's Transcoder software shrinks Web data to fit on handheld clients. But Seagull claims there are differences.

For instance, Wireless-to-Host has a device with autosensing features that lets it tell the difference between queries from Nokia Corp. 6150 and Nokia Communicator handhelds. This lets the server deliver data in a format optimized for whatever handheld the user employs.

Seagull also offers what it calls "session pooling," which lets customers designate certain applications to be available without having to be initialized for end users. Mobile workers can access the host and download data 10 to 20 seconds more quickly than if they had to go through a full initialization process.

Wireless-to-Host is available now; the Java-based server can run on any machine that runs a Java Virtual Machine, including any Windows or Unix server; and the COM-based server runs on Windows NT and 2000. The server starts at $25,000. The development tool kit runs on 32-bit Windows clients and costs $5,000.


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