Web Site Promotes AS/400 Online Community

There are a number of venues for finding AS/400 information online. However, one non-IBM site can actually boast that an AS/400 is its source of power. The site -- www.ignite400.org -- is intended to serve as a forum for AS/400 professionals seeking to link their systems with the Internet.

Ignite/400 -- which stands for the International Group for Networking, Internet Technologies and E-business on the AS/400 -- functions as a nonprofit association of AS/400 users, developers and re-sellers.

The site originates from an AS/400 Model 170 based at the facilities of Morpheus Ltd. (U.K.), and will be supported by AS/400 vendor advertising. Membership, which now stands at about 750, is free, says Bob Cancilla, co-founder of Ignite/400.

Cancilla estimates that about 20 percent of Ignite/400's membership consists of IBM Rochester employees. However, these members' names are kept anonymous, he adds. The remainder consists of developers and consultants focused on AS/400-based Web site development.

The site features interactive forums, a search engine, IBM's latest PTFs and free downloadable software. Currently, work is underway to enhance Ignite/400's search engine capabilities, Cancilla says.

Though Ignite/400 may organize its first membership conference later in 1999, the organization does not intend to compete with Common, Cancilla emphasizes. "We have very specialized Internet activities," he says. "Right now, we only exist in cyberspace."

Ignite/400 was the first non-IBM site to use IBM's Websphere application server, Cancilla notes. Along with Websphere, the site is supported by IBM's HTTP server and Net.Data, which links RPG programs to the Web. The Java-based search engine is provided by Cybotics Technologies Ltd. (Houston). Barring an initial "glitch in AS/400 thread support," Cancilla reports that Websphere was up and running in 45 minutes. "We plugged Cybotics into Websphere and it ran immediately," he says, adding that the only major issue after installation was a lack of documentation for AS/400 deployments. "We couldn't have run Websphere without getting some inside information from the developer in Rochester."

Cancilla points to one member's recent online crisis as an example of how he hopes the site will serve the AS/400 community.

The member's company was inadvertently blacklisted as a spam site, thereby shutting off its access to e-mail on the Web, according to Cancilla. The problem stemmed from the lack of security on the AS/400's SMTP server, he explains. "If you have an AS/400, I can come into it and send mail through it without a problem." Other platforms such as Unix and Windows NT screen out unauthorized e-mail. In response to discussion at the Ignite/400 site, "IBM promised a PTF within 60 days," he says.