Perle Offers Smooth Access to IP Resources

What do you do when you’re faced with Herculean task of supporting both IP and SNA devices over the same IP-based network?

In the AS/400 world, more system administrators are turning to new versions of Perle Systems’ 594e and 594T network controllers. Version 4.0 of both products, released in early March, are designed to allow the Toronto-based remote access product developer to add support for IP over Twinax to the 594e’s enhanced networking feature and the 594T’s IP routing feature.

To better aid remote users seeking greater IP routing flexibility, Perle also added dynamic routing support to both controllers. "I think we’ve stepped ahead of IBM in terms of adding more functionality to new IP clients at remote sites," says Sean O’Donovan, marketing manager at Perle Systems. "Customers really wanted a product that supported IP routing and that offered a mechanism to connect LAN devices into a wider network for all servers in remote sites to one platform. IBM doesn’t offer any of the features we’re announcing."

Perle is billing Version 4.0 as a panacea to AS/400 shops that need to support both IP and SNA devices across Twinax connections in a low-cost fashion. "Sure, AS/400 managers could purchase both the IBM 5500 and 5494 controllers, but at a prohibitive cost," O’Donovan adds.

"Not only are we reducing hardware costs associated with AS/400 management, we’re also offering a nice migration path from existing IBM 5250 devices to Twinax-connected desktops, thus ultimately simplifying the tasks of network administrators and providing unobstructed network access for remote AS/400 users."

Many customers asked Perle to devise a way to deploy standard TCP/IP protocols across a Twinax connection in order to leverage IP resources, but in a manner that protected their Twinax cabling investments, according to O'Donovan. With Version 4.0, AS/400 users can continue to use their Twinax cabling systems, but still allow their IP users to access corporate resources no matter where they are on the network. "We’re also able to offer a local network proxy boot server capability, with a hard disk inside the controller for remote sites," he says. "You don’t want to spend your time booting across a WAN – that could take 25 minutes. Plus, installing a boot server at remote sites means more management and more costs. And nobody we talked to wants that."

The dynamic routing support function should also be a boon to AS/400 managers. Dynamic routing support is a new feature of the 594 series products, giving the controller the ability to learn route entries from an adjoining router that supports RIP Version 1 or Version 2, thus helping reduce network traffic and streamline configuration tasks for network administrators.

Version 4.0 is currently available free of charge as a software upgrade to registered Perle 594e customers who have bought the enhanced networking feature, and for the Perle 594T customers who have purchased the IP routing feature.