IBM Offers e-Biz Networking Solutions

The packaging of the AS/400e server, Lotus Domino software and 2210 Nways Multiprotocol Router brings e-business to a level that is more accessible to a larger variety of businesses, particularly those that do not have the time or resources to invest in developing their own e-business infrastructure.

"Everyday a customer thinks of a different way to do business over the Internet," says Lynden Green, director of enterprise marketing for IBM’s Networking Hardware Division (NHD).

Traditionally, IBM’s AS/400 Brand has developed its products autonomously. In an enterprise environment, however, there is a blend of technology, Green says. This packaged e-business solution represents IBM’s search for areas of synergy between its NHD and the AS/400.

While these e-business packages fall into five separate categories, all include an AS/400e server, Lotus Domino software and 2210 Nways routers.

The first category, according to Green, is a mobility solution package that makes use of the 2210 router to help mobile users connect to the central AS/400. The 2210 is an inexpensive router that is small in size but also highly scalable, he says.

The second package addresses Internet access, allowing remote locations to connect via a 2210 router to the Internet. Now, users have the option of using the router, in addition to calling upon a service provider or installing their own leased line, he notes.

Web hosting – the third package – is a network-ready Internet Web host solution for users that benefit from more of a public offering than those interested in the Internet access package. The Web hosting package features different Domino software from the second package, as well as different interface cards within the 2210 router.

The fourth package – Multi-site Interconnection – "takes multiple 2210s and connects multiple business locations together," Green says. This package is for companies that want to establish a public or private network that enables multiple locations to communicate while still offering the appearance of being a single, integrated Web site. Multi-site Interconnection takes advantage of virtual private networks (VPNs) and IP Security protocol (IPSec).

The fifth package is High-performance Switching, which allows a business to place a Fast Ethernet switch in front of its back-end AS/400e server. "Such a configuration increases bandwidth between the server and its workstations," Green points out.

These five basic areas generally match customers’ needs, although customized solutions are still available for those who need more than a packaged solution has to offer.

The combination of Domino software and the AS/400e is designed to help IT shops reduce the overall number of servers required to support the enterprise, reducing the complexity of administration and management for those who rely upon groupware solutions. The 2210 router enables VPNs that provide secure access to corporate data among multiple offices and remote users. A VPN is an extension of a company’s private corporate intranet across a public network – such as the Internet – via a secure, private connection. The 2210’s VPN capability combines IP security and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, which defines the particular path a given company message or file might use to travel through the Internet.

"One advantage to using routers within an e-business infrastructure is its transparent to the rest of the system," says Bruce Dillon, VPN product manager in IBM’s NHD. VPN savings are realized in the areas of remote access, branch office connectivity and an extended supplier network.

"Branch offices can see the most savings because leased lines from office to office are expensive, particularly when the customer is charged by the mile," Dillon says, adding that connecting via routers to a local ISP is preferred because the ISP is usually local and charges a flat monthly rate.

Transporting data over the public Internet can affect network performance, which is where the router technology and IPSec are important. ISPs cannot guarantee public Internet performance, but they can offer service-level agreements to their customers, he explains. The best ISPs are those large enough to handle a business’s transactions at each of the branch offices.

Replacing a leased line with an ISP connection also involves a change of software to accompany the new router. Such a software shift is not typically disruptive to a system, Dillon adds.

Though September 30 of this year, IBM is offering a rebate promotion for these packaged solutions, also referred to as the "e-business Made Easy solution." When a customer purchases an eligible AS/400e or RS/6000 server as well as $10,000 or more worth of eligible 2210 Nways Multiprotocol Router products they will receive a $1,000 rebate.