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KEMET Modernizes the Corporate Desktop with Reflection 2008

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Problem

A diverse mix of outmoded emulators scattered across the global enterprise was hindering user access to critical customer order information.

Solution

Use Reflection 2008 to standardize and modernize the corporate desktop.

Results

  • Realized all the management, productivity, and security advantages of tight integration with Windows Vista.
  • Gained the flexibility to move forward with plans for a mix of virtualization technologies.
  • Secured mission-critical information with the latest encryption and authentication methods.
  • Customized sessions and automated business processes to increase user efficiency.

In the world of electronics, the components built by the KEMET Corporation are viewed as “passive.” The company, however, is anything but. After years of mergers, acquisitions, and consolidations, 90-year-old KEMET offers the most complete line of surface-mount and through-hole capacitors in the world. In fact, KEMET capacitors are found in virtually all electronic applications and products used today.

Acquisitions made KEMET a global enterprise. But they also left a growing problem in their wake: A random mix of desktop operating systems and outdated terminal emulation software lay scattered across the company. And these often incompatible systems were hindering user access to critical customer order information stored on corporate IBM hosts.

KEMET solved the problem by standardizing on Windows Vista and Reflection 2008 software.

Vista and Reflection: A Natural Fit

Moving the company onto the same internal systems was the best way to leverage economies of scale. In addition to modernizing their desktop operating systems, KEMET wanted complementary terminal emulators that would infuse fresh capabilities into their critical, but cryptic, order entry, forecasting, shipping, invoicing, and tracking apps residing on an IBM AS/400 host.

The logical operating system choice was Windows Vista. With Vista, KEMET could globally manage its widespread PCs using centralized tools, such as Microsoft SCCM. Vista also provided the security and usability required by KEMET’s large mobile workforce.

Naturally, KEMET wanted their new terminal emulator to work seamlessly with Vista—and Reflection 2008, Attachmate’s next-gen terminal emulator, met that requirement. “No other terminal emulator is as tightly integrated with Vista as Reflection,” said Brian Burch, Director of Worldwide Infrastructure at KEMET. “Reflection 2008 is certified for Vista and engineered to take full advantage of Vista’s security, management, and productivity features.”

For example, Reflection 2008 is integrated with Vista’s User Account Control, making it possible for IT staff to control which tasks users can perform within Reflection 2008. Reflection 2008 also supports the Vista Aero graphical user interface, and session settings are organized to match the Vista control panel.

Modern Terminal Emulation for the Modern Desktop

The company’s mix of terminal emulators had given KEMET a taste of the options available to them. The one in-house product that KEMET had grown to trust was Reflection.

“We knew from experience that Reflection was stable and reliable,” Burch said. “Then we looked at the latest version, and we knew it had the flexibility to meet our long-term plans.” According to Burch, Reflection 2008’s support for leading virtualization technologies, multiple levels of security, and familiar customization options sealed the deal:

  • Leading virtualization technologies
    KEMET has recently developed an application and desktop virtualization strategy, and Reflection definitely plays into that strategy. “Going forward, we’ll see a mix of fully virtualized desktops where the client  is either a thin client or a scaled-down PC. We’ll also use more capable machines running local applications,” Burch said. “Reflection has been tested on the leading virtualization platforms—VMWare, Citrix, and Microsoft—so it won’t hold us back.

    Automated deployment, easier upgrades, and application compatibility are some of the other IT benefits KEMET can expect from Reflection 2008’s virtualization optimizations. For example, KEMET can run two different versions of Reflection at the same time, on the same machine. And that means users can transition to new versions incrementally, without interrupting business operations.

  • Multiple levels of security
    Reflection security is crucial to KEMET’s international operation. Delivering data and applications to employees—wherever they are—requires multiple levels of security. With the latest encryption protocols and authentication methods, including client-side SSL/TLS, SSH, and Kerberos, Reflection 2008 protects the raw data stream in ways that Telnet can’t. These capabilities will also help KEMET address a critical business requirement—complying with U.S. federal regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

  • Familiar customization options
    Reflection customization options are a definite plus for KEMET developers. According to Burch, “The development community, in particular, appreciates being able to configure sessions, automate tasks, and integrate customer data with web or Windows applications using VBA. It’s a familiar environment for them.” 

    The Reflection VBA interface is also helping KEMET to automate business processes across the company. On every plant floor worldwide, KEMET has installed a Windows-based manufacturing execution system. On the front end, this system provides a local language application that is graphical, intuitive, and bar-code enabled. On the back end, information entered into the system gets translated and entered into the company’s MRP mainframe application. The APIs available through the VBA interface in Reflection 2008 make the process possible.

    “Thanks to the Reflection VBA interface, we’ve been able to work around our extremely antiquated mainframe application, which is English-based, hard to use, and has no APIs,” Burch said. “Our non-English-speaking users can work in their local language and the translation process is transparent to them.”

    With these modern capabilities, KEMET users can interact with critical data from any device and any location, in any way that they choose.

Reflection is ‘Just Working.’

With previous emulators, users frequently called IT saying that the emulator wasn’t functioning properly. This lack of reliability was particularly tough for international users, whose U.S. support team was typically in bed asleep when they needed help.

All that has changed with Reflection 2008. For one thing, Reflection 2008 is backed by Attachmate’s seasoned customer support team. “If we ever need help, we can reach someone at Attachmate and they’ll work with us to resolve it—whether it’s sorting out a technical problem or a licensing issue,” Burch said.

The good news is that technical issues have been virtually nonexistent. “Once we’ve deployed Reflection, that’s the last we hear of it,” Burch said. “It’s out there, and it’s just working.”

Reflection 2008: Taking the Mainframe Anywhere

Reflection 2008, Attachmate’s next-gen terminal emulator, supports multiple operating systems (including Windows 7), leading virtualization technologies, and multiple levels of security. What’s more, it is based on Microsoft .NET and integrated with VBA to give you complete customization freedom.  Now you can interact with the mainframe on any device, from any location, in any way that you choose.

    Solution Overview

    Solution Type
    Terminal Emulation
    Products and Services
    Reflection 2014
    Industry
    Electronics

    We knew from experience that Reflection was stable and reliable. Then we looked at the latest version, and we knew it had the flexibility to meet our long-term plans.

    Brian Burch
    Director of Worldwide Infrastructure
    KEMET Corporation

     
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