Uniterm Home 4 Business Report
Computing SA
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Vol 12 No. 4

The Uniterm development team thought that finding a high-performance realtime OS to power their company's product - thin client called easinet - would be, quite frankly, just like the product's name. But Angelo Borros, managing director at the South African-based Uniterm, said he was frustrated by the lack of customer service and support he received when evaluating realtime operating systems for their product.

That is, until he investigated QNX. At the time, he'd heard of QNX but didn't know much about it. He decided to give it a closer look when he learned that we provided a Citrix ICA software kit, an essential requirement for their product, which provides users with easy access to Windows, Unix, and mainframe applications, and web-based applications served on an intranet or over the Internet. It turned out that QNX had the rest of the right stuff too: a proven track record for reliability, a customizable and embeddable windowing system, and a full-featured web browser. What ultimately convinced him? "From the moment I booted up the Photon micro GUI windowing system, I just sat back and thought, wow!" said Borros. "I wanted to embed this stuff and really get going with it."

Borros was impressed not only with QNX technology, but also with the solid customer service offered by our South African distributor, Systems 104. And that, he says, set QNX apart from the crowd. "I got to know my distributor really well. I even had to call him at home a few times," says Borros. "I have never received customer support like that before - ever."

QNX is the first realtime OS to offer a Citrix ICA software client, enabling companies to deploy a Windows application once on a server, and make it instantly available to any network computer or other thin client running the ICA software client for QNX. This results in lower client-hardware costs and increased control for system administrators, as well as overall savings in application ownership. In addition, with Citrix for QNX, even a wireless handheld device can access high-end enterprise solutions. Users see and work only with the application's interface, while the application executes 100 percent on a Citrix WinFrame or MetaFrame server. The applications look, feel and respond as if they're running locally.

The easinet takes advantage of the sophisticated functionality and small footprint of QNX, Photon and Voyager. And QNX's extensible, microkernel architecture is not only inherently reliable, but maximizes the product's overall system performance. The easinet for example, has tested comparable to a similar device with a much faster processor powered by another OS. Another bonus: with QNX's pre-emptive multitasking, easinet users can run a web browser, text legacy application, and client - all at the same time. And that's something that Borros says sets easinet apart from many other thin-client offerings.

Borros says organisations are starting to realise the significant savings that these applications can provide. Launched in July 1999, the easinet thin client is currently used in distributed processing applications over a large geographic area because of its WAN (wide area network) capability, but it's also ideal for the emerging pervasive computing market, POS environments, and hand-held devices.