Core Balances Access With Security

Users of Core Technology’s MultiBridge-32 communications server software can expect a number of updates by the end of the quarter, when Version 1.40 is scheduled for release. Of greatest interest to IBM’s midrange market are the enhancements that better enable MultiBridge-32 to interact with CTCBridge 5250, a client-side Java applet.

MultiBridge-32 is a modular software system consisting of a communications server program, Station Interface Modules (SIMs) and host transports that provide communication to AS/400, Unisys ClearPath, A Series, V Series and 2200 hosts. Available SIMs include TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, terminal server, browser and CTCBridge T27, UTS and 5250 emulation applets for the Java platform.

MultiBridge-32 essentially enables communication within a heterogeneous environment by providing a single point of control once a connection is made with the host, according to Walter Lapinsky, manager of software engineering for Core Technology Corp. (Lansing, Mich.). "Network administrators don’t have to make the entire host available to their users," he says. Users are routed through MultiBridge-32, providing another layer of security, in addition to the host system’s own security.

CTCBridge 5250 – which runs on any platform that supports the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) – is used to communicate with MultiBridge-32, which in turn communicates with the host. One of Core’s "key development goals has been to avoid placing the workload on the host server," according to Lapinsky. Core customers use this combination of MultiBridge and CTCBridge for both Internet access and more efficient management of desktop clients, he says.

Core also plans to make Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol available with Version 2.00 of CTC Bridge 5250 during the third quarter of this year. This version will include an upgrade for both client and server software. "Adding SSL promotes confidence in conducting business over the Internet," Lapinsky says. Core hopes the introduction of SSL to its solutions will open a new stream of revenue for the company, while at the same time responding to the requests of their current customers, according to Lapinsky

Des Moines General Hospital (Iowa) is using a combination of MultiBridge-32 and CTCBridge 5250 to provide IT staff with remote access to the network on a 24x7 basis, according Kevin Wilson, network administrator for Des Moines General Hospital. IT staff can access the network from their homes to perform system maintenance, for example. Wilson says he plans to eventually open certain areas of the network to remote use by hospital staff members.

The hospital’s IT staff installed Core’s MultiBridge-32 on an NT server that ties in to Microsoft’s Internet Information Server. This NT server connects – via IP – with an AS/400e Model 620 running V4R2. Though remote access to the hospital’s network currently employs Windows 95 to dial up through a Cisco firewall located between the Internet and the internal network, Wilson says the security available with Core’s products would "make it easy to create a secure intranet."

After several months evaluating the products, the six-member IT staff is pleased with Core’s sales and services efforts, according to Wilson. Perhaps the area in which MultiBridge and CTCBridge performed best was installation. "It’s a pretty complex program," he says, but the installation and setup were not difficult.

Other features incorporated into MultiBridge-32 Version 1.40 add capabilities for use with the Browser SIM, including: support for multiple station pools, simplified configuration when working with a limited number of host communication stations and a larger number of networked stations; support for Core Technology’s Underneath filters with a Netscape Internet server; and support for multiple virtual servers in the Windows Internet Information Server (IIS) environment.

MultiBridge Administrator, a program available with Version 1.30 or later of MultiBridge, is designed to facilitate management of user connections. The Administrator enables users of the TCP/IP and IPX/SPX SIMs and the SIMs for Java (T27, UTS and 5250) to modify, manage, add or remove multiple host or client stations at one time as well as configure all station setup options.

Core’s Underneath for CTCBridge 5250 is an optional system of filters designed to enable CTCBridge 5250 for Java emulation users to customize the look or feel of existing legacy applications without making changes on the host. Underneath provides restriction of a user or class of users for a specific set of screens, the addition of buttons and menu items and lifting of text from the screen to use as the button label.