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Some of our favourite success stories are from customers who form a long term happy relationship with one of our partners, and together choose Gallagher & Robertson products time after time as the customer environment changes. Verizon is a good example of such a case. When they exchanged their 'dumb terminals' for PCs our partner, Bull-HN in the United States, introduced Glink for Windows as the terminal emulator. When Verizon needed browser access Bull introduced Gweb. To give the users a more intuitive interface for new users Bull introduced Gweb Professional to facelift the application and add ease-of-use features such as pull down menus and radio buttons to replace function keys. Today Verizon use Glink for Windows for super-users, Gweb for browser access and use Glink for Java for users with Mac OSX workstations.

Legacy applications don't have to show their age

The partnership between Verizon and Bull had its origins in 1968 when Continental Telephone installed Honeywell medium-scale computers at Contel's headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. This relationship has endured for almost forty years, as the computer industry evolved through several technological generations and as both companies evolved through various mergers to their current incarnations.

Among the applications implemented by Contel was the Distributed Customer Record Information System (DCRIS) for tracking telephone equipment, usage and service. DCRIS initially used a Bull GCOS 6 computer system for tracking the activity, and exported files to a Bull GCOS 8 system for preparation of customer bills. User access was via HDS 5 'dumb' terminals. To take advantage of evolving technology, DCRIS was subsequently upgraded to the GCOS 6 oriented HVX environment running under AIX on a Bull Escala system, and the 'dumb' terminals were replaced by PCs running Glink.

In 1985, McDonnell-Douglas contracted with Contel to handle tracking and billing of their internal telecommunications assets, and three GCOS 6 systems were installed to run DCRIS at the aerospace company's facilities in Saint Louis. McDonnell-Douglas, which ultimately became part of Boeing, used DCRIS for scheduling the installation of new phone service, relocating phones within the St. Louis complex, making equipment or voice mail changes, disconnecting existing phones and tracking outstanding work orders. The original GCOS 6 systems were upgraded to the HVX environment on Escala in 1998.

New users require more intuitive interface

In 2003, Verizon and Boeing decided to expand use of DCRIS throughout the Boeing organization, including offices at various military bases. Since the end-users at these new locations had no prior experience with either DCRIS or Glink, Bull recommended employing Gweb to make DCRIS available via browser access, without the need to install Glink on each user's workstation. Gweb employs the same proven terminal emulator technology upon which Verizon and Boeing have relied for many years, and runs on the same AIX system as the DCRIS application. This enables Boeing personnel to access DCRIS through industry standard browsers already running on their personal computers. Verizon ordered a 200-session Gweb Professional Edition license and upgraded their 300-user Glink license to the Glink Professional Edition. They also licensed Glink for Java for use on the Mac OSX platform.

As reported by Mike Thibodeau, during his presentation at Bull’s Summit 2005 customer conference in Phoenix, Verizon was able to facelift the original DCRIS screens by taking advantage of GwebPro’s ability to add ease-of-use features such as pull down menus and radio buttons to replace function keys. This optimized the use of screen space and contributed to making the user interface more intuitive. Verizon was also able to use the screen tags on many of their face-lifted screens to create links to 'help' pages specific to each screen.

During the process of face-lifting the original DCRIS screens, Verizon discovered that it was quite simple to “take it up a notch” by creating new applications specifically designed to take advantage of Gweb. These new applications did not need to be 'formatted' on the mainframe side, since all the screen formatting could be done after the fact under Gweb. One Gweb screen from an application written to take advantage of Gweb’s capabilities, can replace many Glink forms by creating screens that use all the available text space to send data to Gweb.

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