Wavelink Blog

Author: Alex Evans

The Road to Velocity

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$500 million. That’s a whole lot of money. It could buy you any super yacht on the market today, or a whole lot of tacos on Taco Tuesday.

That’s also what some of our customers told us it would cost if they decided to move from a telnet interface to a more modern touch-enabled interface on their Android devices. Let that sink in for a second. $500 million. For an HTML UI.

These large project costs stem from the fact that these customers were faced with migrating their mission critical host applications, including having to employ legions of developers (and all of the other costs that entails), having to maintain and enhance their code, having to manage a massive project, and so forth. All for an HTML UI.

Clearly, if the only benefit is a more modern interface, then half a billion dollars is a hard sell to the board.

The vision of Velocity

Wavelink has a rich history of allowing our customers to change the user experience dramatically, while at the same time minimizing the risk and cost of this type of project. It’s this rich history, coupled with this new Android opportunity, that led us to the vision of Velocity.

As we sat and brainstormed about the problem our customers faced, we saw that we could help them modernize the device experience and also maintain their back end host applications.

No risky data or server migrations involved, no legions of developers to employ, no massive projects to manage, and most importantly, more money left over for Taco Tuesday.

The initial goal of the project was to allow a customer to install the client on an Android device and connect to their existing telnet host application, whereby the user would see a modern, HTML, touch-enabled UI on the device instead of the green screen application they had before. All of this had to be achieved without a single change to the host application.

At the same time, we wanted to provide a toolset that would allow the customer to change the UI to meet their specific needs.

A modernized user experience

Velocity is a constantly evolving platform that allows our customers to move to an Android device and modernize the user experience at their own pace. Some customers will choose to maintain the green screen experience, while others may choose to only reformat a few screens or a single process. Some users will want a soup to nuts modern UI. All of these are possible with Velocity.

You may have also noticed that I’m calling Velocity a platform. This is because we do a lot more than just connect to telnet servers. Customers who have web-based host applications can connect to those using Velocity.

Additionally, retailers who use Oracle Retail Store Inventory Management (Oracle SIM) will be using Velocity as their mobile client. Shortly, we’ll also be releasing our Speakeasy product on top of Velocity to provide a voice-enablement solution for our customers. For those keeping count, that’s three different types of host applications that can be connected to, and a layer of voice on top.

During this time, LANDESK also acquired Naurtech. This was an interesting acquisition for our group, because Naurtech had a rich-scripting engine in their client that allowed a customer to have a lot of very powerful capabilities and customization possibilities at their fingertips.

This concept is something that we also wanted to include in Velocity, and this is where a lot of the power of the platform resides today, and where a lot of the value will continue to be driven. In every release, we’re adding more and more Javascript APIs that our customers, partners or field engineers can leverage, in order to deliver a tailored solution to our end users.

This also highlights the benefit of the platform, because many of these APIs are equally applicable to telnet, web and SIM. Furthermore, the fact that all of this is supported through a single client and console means that, as we add support for more and more device, all of those devices can be used with any protocol.

Velocity has been an exciting project to work on these last couple of years and, as a product manager, it’s incredibly fulfilling to be able to take a product from the drawing board all the way through a number of releases.  We have a lot more exciting stuff coming that we can’t wait to show you.

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Wavelink TE Day 1 Support for iOS 8

I’ll cover the why’s and how’s in more detail in a future post but what’s becoming clear is that the face of retail is changing. Mobile devices are becoming ever more prolific in our shopping experiences and consumerization of mobility has been a big driver. Retailers have looked at the experiences that consumer devices provide and are trying to leverage that to change the way we physically interact with their stores, or the way that their retail associates get their jobs done. One factor has been cost – the acquisition cost of a consumer device is much less than a comparable rugged device (note that I said ‘acquisition’ and not TCO). Up to this point, iOS devices have been the major winner in this space but, as many early adopters are finding out, there are many aspects of the experience that are out of their control.

Late last year, Apple released iOS 7 as we were reaching the end of our TE iOS 1.3 development cycle. Our engineering team had been validating each beta drop to ensure that everything worked as expected. Very late in the cycle it was discovered that Apple had changed their power management methods with regards to how backgrounded apps were treated. This change meant that any background app had a hard-coded 3 minutes until the OS closed the network sockets – this was detrimental to the TE experience, though we were able to solve the issue with ConnectPro. ConnectPro maintains TE sessions and allows clients to reconnect back to the point they were at prior to the failure.

The takeaway for us is that, even though it is expensive, it is worth our while to perform these proactive validation efforts so we can be prepared for Day 1 support of a new OS.  These often pass with few issues, though sometimes, like with iOS 7, we have some major work to do to deliver an enterprise solution. Look at is as a kind of insurance that we are providing on behalf of our customers.

Next week Apple is holding one of their events, where they are expected to announce the iPhone 6 and the release date for iOS 8. The Wavelink team has been validating each beta release to ensure that our clients still work as expected. We did find a couple of issues that needed to be resolved, and these fixes were included in the latest iOS TE v2 client release, however, nothing major has been found.

iOS TE customers have Day 1 support for iOS 8. Download the latest client from the Wavelink website https://www.wavelink.com/Apple-device-downloads.

The takeaway for you, our customer, is that, no matter which device OS you chose, Wavelink has you covered. We are doing the due diligence to ensure that our clients work on the latest platforms and that we continue to provide seamless support on a very wide variety of mobile platforms and devices.

Watch this space for future news of Day 1 Android L support.