Running on NT: The Power Behind IBM's Windows NT Suite

With the lazy days of summer upon us, an extended holiday was just what the Microsoft doctors ordered. Since travel was on the company dime, I experienced one of the growing luxuries, the All-Suites hotel. Here among the sun and forced relaxation, I found the power of the suite: specialization.

IBM has found this power in their NT Suites as well. With three offerings for various size companies, IBM’s NT Suites are an interesting option for AS/400 shops. The IBM Enterprise Suite for Windows NT targets organizations with more than 100 users, while the IBM Suite for Windows NT aims at organizations with 25 to 100 users. IBM will round out the family later this year with a suite for workgroups and small businesses.

Like the newest addition in every family, IBM has been pampering and showcasing Lotus Domino and Notes at every major announcement and product launch. With the NT Suites, IBM finally gives a good reason for doing so. The Domino server is the core of the NT suites. Additional products are integrated to provide transaction, management and communication assistance.

In addition to the basic server, you get a slew of application templates covering everything from project management, company forms and even a product catalog. These are all excellent client-based tools for an organization.

For most AS/400 organizations, the IBM Suite for Windows NT is the perfect fit. Traditional tools such as the HTTP serving of Domino, DB2 and Net.Data provide the medium for secure Web-enabling of production information. I can hear you chanting, "Ken, did all of that time in Europe taint your AS/400 e-business view? All of that is already free with OS/400!" While yes, all of that is available free or for a menial fee with OS/400, how many companies with an eye on security are putting their production AS/400 on the Internet? Even if you are satisfied with your Web and database solution, the eNetwork Communications Server makes this suite worthwhile.

The eNetwork Communications Server is an excellent product in its own right. Host On-Demand, the Web Browser-based emulation tool, enables AS/400 and mainframe access from virtually anywhere. The eNetwork Communications server also acts as a gateway. For those AS/400s and mainframes without TCP/IP (probably for security reasons), the TCP/IP application can seamlessly access the SNA gateway function. Combine this with the free Point to Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) within Windows NT, and you have probably solved the majority of your communications needs.

Managing all of the clients in your diverse organization is eased via Adstar Distributed Storage Management (ADSM) and Intel LANDesk. I can hear the cries now, "But Ken, we have been using ADSM on our AS/400s for years. Why use NT?" There is one simple reason, quick to spurt from any CFO's mouth "AS/400 DASD is at least twice as expensive as PC disk." However, is that really a reason to bring more function away from the black box? If you couple it with Intel LANDesk, the answer is yes.

Having worked with the AS/400 for years, one of the glaring holes has been system management. Although Computer Associates beefed up their AS/400 support and Tivoli finally finished their port, client management is still a major weakness of the AS/400 platform. LANDesk consists of a hub server and a client agent. With the client agent installed, from any management system, you can access any workstation in your organization, see their screens and even control workstation functions. Another beneficial feature is software and hardware discovery. For license management, the discovery and software metering features are invaluable.

On the high end of the NT Suites family, is the IBM Enterprise Suite for Windows NT. In addition to all of the features in the IBM Suite, Tivoli's LAN access, Transaction Series and MQSeries are included. These features plus the DB2 LSX enable true enterprise integration.

With a little something for everyone, the NT Suites offer specialization and segregation for many organizations. The NT Suite functions coupled with the inherent strengths of NT servers and AS/400s promises an interesting future with plenty of time for extended holidays.

When not enjoying the perks of an expense account, Ken Frosch is chief consultant of Thoroughbred Consulting in Greenville, S.C.