Riding the Wave of Web-to-Host

ICOM Informatics (Austin, Texas) has announced version 3.0 of its Winsurf Mainframe Access suite (WMA), which incorporates Java and Active X technologies to provide Web-to-host communication capabilities. Users have the option of Intranet emulation (browser-based), extranet emulation (automatic HTML conversion), or e-business application rejuvenation (development tools which enable integration of host applications with the user’s interface to enterprise data).

WMA provides Web-based access to a broad range of hosts that includes IBM S/390, AS/400, DEC, Unix and Bull from any workstation running Windows, Mac, Linux, OS/2, or Unix. The WMA client module runs on any 16-bit (Windows 3.11) or 32-bit (Windows 95/98/NT) PC equipped with Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, or Communicator.

Mainframe Access suites
Mainframe Access Gold: Access to IBM, DEC, Unix and Bull hosts
Winsurf Mainframe Access Blue: Access to IBM, DEC and Unix (in Telnet mode) hosts
Winsurf Mainframe Access Telnet: Access to IBM, DEC, Unix and Bull (in Telnet mode) hosts
Mainframe Access Silver: Access to IBM, DEC and Unix hosts
With WMA’s centralized administration, the configuration and management of communication services—and the assignment of these services to users—can be created according to specific profiles. Network administrators assign communication services to users (and user groups) at a central location, and users then have automatic access to mainframe applications they are configured for, without potentially complex and tiresome connection procedures.

With WMA, organizations can leverage a variety of in-house legacy applications. For example, WMA’s support for Java Enterprise Beans ensures the compatibility of the Java emulators with industry standard APIs, simplifying the task of integrating the emulators with popular third-party or internally written programs.

“We have the most complete product offering, in terms of the broad range of host devices we connect to and emulations we support, such as the 5250, 3270 and all the VT emulations,” says Dan Price, marketing manager at ICOM. “On top of that, we also have the capability of enabling the customer or systems integrator to customize the view of the host application to suit a user’s particular needs.”

“Our security server offers complete communication security with TLS and SSL V3 authentication, so users can be at the same level as a firewall—and accept connections from the Internet,” adds Diego Alfarache, division manager of Technical Services at ICOM. “Before someone can logon to that security server, they have previously been authenticated by the WMA server to make sure it’s a legitimate connection request. This is a very neat feature; it makes people sleep better, knowing that someone can’t directly access their AS/400.”

Brian Casey, Network Manager of Navarre Corporation (New Hope, Minn.) has been using WMA for about a year. Navarre operates business-to-business Internet E-Commerce Web sites that provides fulfillment for both traditional and e-commerce retail sites for music, software, and DVDs. Casey currently has a 25-user license; he plans to upgrade to the latest release and obtain more licenses to fill their growing needs.

“Typically, vendors logon onto our Web site and check their inventory statistics to see if they need to replenish or call someone,” he explains. “Eventually, we’re going to have our own sales force use this, too. That way, they can connect to the Internet and use it anywhere—making it easier on them.”

Casey mentioned that the WMA requires little administration. “Once it’s installed, it pretty much takes care of itself. It has worked very well for us.” Another added advantage of using WMA at Navarre is the small amount of training required. “It’s browser-based,” says Casey, “and the world being what it is today, everyone is fairly Internet savvy and can use a browser.”

The installation code supplied is specific to the selected suite. Winsurf Mainframe Access 3.0 will be available in June 2000. Pricing starts at $183 per concurrent user, with volume discounts available starting at 25+ users. WMA can be licensed separately or used as part of ICOM’s e-Business Suite. For more information, call (800) 351-4244 or visit http://www.icominfo.com (new window).

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