Green Screens - The Origins

It was 20 years ago when Iv'e get in touch with AS400. Actually, all started in December 1999. So, this is the story, about Green Screen Terminal Service origins and 20 years of working, learning and researching about OS/400, AS/400 and today IBM i.

I encounter AS/400 for the first time exactly 20 years ago. In the beginning, it was not quite happy story as I came from MS world and I had a quite a lot of resistance going to terminal from GUI environment. However, the more I worked with OS/400 and the more knowledge I accumulated over the next few years I started to appreciate OS/400 more and more until I realized what a piece of engineering masterpiece OS/400 is. Don't be fooled by non-gui environment.

I will not go 20 years back in history describing all nuts and bolts that lead to this project. I will skip a few years and jump into 2004. That year, a company I worked for got a big client from the car industry with remote branches in several countries and 3000+ workstations. It was a big deal for 15 employees’ the company. Giving them support was a real challenge. A lot of traveling and support. Because of all that work I decided to try to find a better approach, so the idea came to my mind to create a web based 5250 terminals.

In 2001. I wrote 5250 client in Delphi, so I felt comfortable to do it again but this time in Java for server environment. The Project started as a proof of concept in 2006. with help of some open source projects to save my time. After several months of development, the project came to the halt. It turns out that in 2006. it was virtually impossible to create a web-based terminal of any kind as they require a full-duplex communication channel which as a technology did not exist in browsers back then. So, the project ended up on GitHub as an Open Source project in December 2007.  And it is still available there .

Interestingly, from 2007. to 2012. I've got a few dozen emails from all over the world from various companies asking me to finish the product. As full-duplex technology (today known as WebSockets) did not exist, so I was rejecting requests and the project become almost forgotten in history.

However, all changed in 2014., again in December :) when another company asked me to finish the project for them.  I've decided to do so as in meanwhile full-duplex web technology became available. When the project was finally made operational, the company introduced me to their IBM system supplier which also has their own products. It was Israeli company VR-Tech. Company owner and myself immediately understood each other about the web-based terminal, potential and future direction, so we started a partnership in 2015. which after 4 years of cooperation lead this project to a stage to become the best 5250 web-based cloud oriented solution.

Why I said "to become" instead "it is the best"?

There are still some unique features we want to add to the product. However, the most important missing part is the automatic modernization engine for which the market shows big interest. This is especially important now as we are targeting cloud and being able to support many clients with automated modernization without manual templating is a crucial element.

But, have no fear. We are working on that, and it is progressing exceptionally well. When we finalize this segment (very soon), I'm convinced that this product will cover all bases, and with the set of other unique features our product already has, I'm quite positive it will become the best solution on the market regarding price, performance, features, security, versatility and many more.

Our incoming version include automatic modernization engine completely written in JavaScript, running in browser or our mobile app will make a difference as we have a plan to open source this engine hoping to create a community of adopters which will be able not only to improve the engine with better detection features but with new UI components also. Open sourcing it will bring benefits to all using this product.

The bottom line is that even Green Screens ltd. is relatively new business, it did not fall from the sky out of the blue. The First proof of concept was made 14 years ago. The Project waited 10 years for web technology to catch up before we become able to do it as we planned.

Even "cloud" as a term in IT also did not exist back then, plan was cloud or remote service as an isolation and security layer. All accumulated knowledge across 2 decades not only about OS/400 but security, networking, performance and optimizations, many advanced non-IBM related technologies. All this is embedded into Green Screens Terminal Service product today. To get a clue how much work has been done in last 4+ years one can check this history changes link.

As a highly technical person first then as a business owner, from the beginning I was oriented to the online services and cloud. Today we are witnessing a very interesting shift in the IBM world.  IBM achieved cooperation with Amazon, MS Azure and Google Cloud about putting IBM i into the cloud on a large scale. This only confirms my assessment about cloud direction for OS/400 14 years ago.

Having that in mind, our own product has many unique features giving us advantage as high performance, advanced security features and "install anywhere" policy in a very quick and simple way.  From MS Windows through Linux to IBM AIX and IBM i OSes. Docker or no docker support is here.

If you provide outsourcing and cloud services for IBM i, don't be shy. Contact us and request test drive and see with your own eyes or follow our online channels for news and updates.