V4R3 Adds Network Integration Enhancements

Despite the preponderance of attention IBM’s recent V4R3 announcement pays to e-business, business intelligence and Java, Big Blue has made plenty of enhancements in the areas of network integration and the Network Station to keep AS/400-centric networks sailing smoothly toward the new millenium.

The network integration enhancements introduced with V4R3 are comprised primarily of built-in OS/400 TCP/IP security and management capabilities, as well as Dial-On-Demand (DOD) networking.

Among the TCP/IP security and management capabilities introduced are: TCP/IP packet security; TCP/IP address mapping and hiding; IP Masquerading; Virtual IP Addressing (VIPA); and GUI configuration and administration for TCP/IP.

"If you look at our overall investment area in AS/400 from a networking and an interface perspective, TCP/IP is our key development investment area," says Drew Flaada, 1998 project manager for AS/400 Brand.

Dial-On-Demand enables the network to establish connections when the need arises, rather than maintaining a continuous connection. DOD also introduces cost-effective features in the areas of batch transfer and modem consolidation, and was conceived to provide a low-cost alternative to a frame-relay network.

"Dial-On-Demand networking is a very cost-effective way for people to tie in a remote labor force into their home system," Flaada explains. As a low-cost alternative to frame relay networking, DOD allows network administrators with a limited number of modems to tie in a whole variety of remote users who need intermittent access at best. "So if you had a remote work force that was, for example, running Lotus Domino, and they needed to replicate their Notes clients, this would be the ideal solution," he says.

IBM continues to maintain a dependable, if somewhat solitary, presence in the Network Computer (NC) market. While enhancements to Network Station Manager are not necessarily tied to the new release of OS/400, NS Manager 3.0 comes on the scene at a time when companies like Affinity Systems (Lansdale, Pa.) and Network Computing Devices Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) have turned their focus away from NC technology and toward Windows Based Terminals (WBTs).

"What we have tried to do with Network Station and the rapid development times required is ensure that we don’t require any specific operating system," Flaada says.

Network Station Manager Release 3.0 now offers Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) client capabilities, which enable integrated access to Windows applications located on the AS/400 host. ICA is a protocol used to deliver applications from a multi-user Windows NT server – including Microsoft’s Terminal Server.

In addition, release 3.0 also delivers: National Language Support, which includes international keyboard layouts and screen displays in more than 30 languages; Twinax attachment to AS/400 for Network Station Series 300, which eliminates need for LAN wiring; enhanced print, emulation and management capabilities; Java Virtual Machine (JVM) 1.1.4, which improves Java execution performance on the Network Station Series 1000; and NC Navigator 3.0 browser, which offers improved print, e-mail and encryption features.