New Interface Centralizes Network Management

The network administrator's job of managing host access has grown more complicated as the desktop landscape continues to be populated by a variety of thin-client, PC and Web-to-host devices. Add to this topology the varied number of back-end host systems found in the typical enterprise, and the concept of a unified, centralized management interface grows ever more appealing.

With its new eN2000 initiative, NetManage Inc. plans to offer network administrators just such an interface. EN2000 is an integrated family of modular desktop, server-based clients and Web-to-host products connecting PCs to AS/400, Unix and mainframe systems.

"EN2000 is essentially NetManage's next-generation architecture, which integrates the complete connectivity requirements from the customer's perspective," says Zvi Alon, CEO and founder of NetManage (Cupertino, Calif.).

NetManage took an "extensive look" at what the customers' needs are with regard to host access and came away with a couple of major points, according to Alon. "First, they would obviously like to be able to customize access to that information in a very easy way to their internal and external users, across multiple platforms," he says. "This leads to the second NetManage's second finding -- that customers want the ability to manage outside access to support e-business."

The first of the eN2000 products to be released is ViewNow, Windows Edition, a line of 14 products designed to provide desktop connectivity for host-based information. ViewNow enables desktop users to access host-based information resources from AS/400, Unix and mainframe environments. Because all of eN2000's components are being designed to share centralized management and real-time support, any combination of solutions from ViewNow will plug into a single framework for ease of administration and support.

"ViewNow actually replaces the functionality of the Chameleon line and the NetSoft Portfolio line, as well as OnNet Host and Interdrive," says Marilyn Kanas, VP of field marketing for NetManage. "We've taken the best of the products [developed both by NetManage and the companies it has acquired] and really architected that into the eN2000 framework. We have about 15 million seats using all our existing products. We're able to take that and put into ViewNow.

"For example, today a customer might have Portfolio and HostLink, and those systems look totally different," Kanas continues. "So the user has to learn two different interfaces. With ViewNow, Windows Edition, they will have one interface that will give them access to the AS/400 and the same access to a mainframe."

EN2000's centralized management architecture makes use of directory technology. Because eN2000 products are enabled with Windows Policies, for example, administrators have the capability to control user access not only to applications, but also to menu items within applications.

The architecture is built upon a centralized directory that holds user information, according to Alon. "The directory that we use generally is either IBM's LDAP [Lightweight Directory Access Protocol], or directories from Microsoft or Novell," he says. "What we add to each is additional information about the different clients that the users can access from different platforms. With eN2000, it is all managed from a centralized management utility so that now you don't need to have multiple management applications."

NetManage's SupportNow comes embedded in all eN2000 client software, allowing for real-time support over the Internet or a corporate intranet. End users with access to SupportNow have the capability to directly share application screens, files and diagnostic data with support personnel.

The real-time support is modular and embedded into the client software, according to Kanas. "For the division of a company that needs just AS/400, for example, that's all they have to buy," she says, adding that those who have a plethora of hosts and desktops, however, can invest in the ViewNow Suite.

"In the rapidly changing worlds of intranets and e-business, IS managers can no longer afford to deploy and manage applications based on physical systems," says Richard Villars, director of network software research at International Data Corp. (Framingham, Mass.). "Products like NetManage's eN2000 let companies centrally control the configuration and security of critical business applications based upon users regardless of whether they are inside or outside of the organization."

The first products in the eN2000 family are scheduled for availability during the second quarter of 1999. Products can be purchased by platform or as a complete suite for all platforms. ViewNow is priced from $200 per client for a single platform to $500 for suite editions.