AS/400 Dances in Real Time with TXAccess

The competition among solutions designed to efficiently unite front-end clients with back-end servers across heterogeneous environments has created a dance for IT dollars. Rather than hold up the walls, TransLink Software Inc. (Bellevue, Wash.) has stepped squarely onto the floor with its TxAccess Server, a set of modular, highly scalable server solutions for Windows NT that map a variety of front-ends, such as Web servers, electronic catalogs and applications servers to midrange or mainframe transactions in real time.

Though TxAccess Server does not run natively on the AS/400, the product works within an AS/400 environment as a native controller. TxAccess Server enables systems administrators to map client applications through the TxAccess Server to existing host applications, such as those running on an AS/400.

TxAccess Server is designed to Web-enable access to midrange or mainframe systems, replacing traditional middleware code generally found between a Web application and an IBM host server. TxAccess occupies a logical space between the client environments and the back-end server, co-resident with Microsoft's SNA Server or IBM's Communications Server for NT.

The TxAccess solution, which includes mapper and run-time modules, is designed to expose host transactions to a generic type of usage through a Web interface, explains Chris Pottinger, product marketing manager for TransLink. "[The solution] can be used within a large scheme of interoperability between systems, or can be used as a point-to-point solution within an open architecture," he says.

TransLink provides integration with AS/400 transactions using Intersystems Communications Function (ICF), Pottinger notes. ICF serves as the user interface for retail communications support. Through its capability to attach retail controllers to the AS/400 this ICF retail communications support provides business solutions with a variety of different connectivity options. "TransLink fully supports Microsoft's Windows DNA FS Architecture, and we are pleased to provide our solutions as legacy extenders," says Mike O'Brien, president of TransLink.

In bypassing the host screen interface, TxAccess employs Direct Transaction Mapping (DTM), which works with underlying transactions and reduces host resource utilization because the system is not burdened with screen processing and navigation. Performance increases result from improved response times, efficient utilization of available resources and increased capability to consistently function under differential system loads.

Mapping helps systems administrators decrease the amount of time it takes to integrate the interactive development environment into the host. According to Pottinger, it's a way of organizing and defining transactions.

Unlike middleware and traditional screen scraping solutions, TxAccess and DTM do not require significant investment in the rewriting of code around an emulation program or to a data stream API.

TxAccess is priced at $9,500 for the server component. The product's scaled modules are priced per session, regardless of the number of users accessing the information.