IBM Upgrades Host Integration the SecureWay

IBM has taken strides to ensure that applications and data residing on host systems remain up-to-date with the latest developments in e-business technology through enhancements and a new addition to its SecureWay host integration family of products.

At its July Solutions '99 Conference in Las Vegas, IBM announced plans to release SecureWay Host On-Demand Version 4, SecureWay Screen Customizer Version 1 and SecureWay Host Publisher Version 2. These components represent technology advances in the areas of, respectively, terminal emulation, application rejuvenation and application integration.

"The latest enhancements to SecureWay are designed to better enable users to integrate legacy information into e-business applications," says Joe Anthony, program director of Host Integration Servers for IBM SecureWay Software.

SecureWay Host On-Demand V4 is the latest edition of the IBM Java terminal emulator, which supports the AS/400, S/390, RS/6000, Windows NT, Sun Solaris, HP-UX and Linux platforms. Enhancements to the product include: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) client authentication, which leverages Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) security standards; Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) enablement to centralize administration for large user groups; and TN5250 host print and file transfer and native AS/400 installation to boost productivity for AS/400 users. Available since the end of July, Version 4 is also enhanced to include application development via ActiveX controls, allowing developers the choice of using either Visual Basic or Java.

By including LDAP support with Host On-Demand Version 4, IBM proves it is possible to build interoperable applications across multiple directories, says Art Olbert, VP of business development for IBM's Network Computing Division. "LDAP proved it was possible to have directories that could support interoperable applications, and it also set the entire IT industry on a path of pursuing interoperability."

SecureWay Screen Customizer V1, scheduled for availability in September, is a new software offering from IBM designed to work with Host On-Demand or SecureWay Personal Communications clients--TCP/IP and SNA--to automatically convert green screens into customizable graphical user interfaces (GUIs) without additional programming. Screen Customizer actually represents the next generation of a product previously known as ResQ!Net, a tool developed by ResQNet.com (New York, N.Y.) enabling users to customize Web-enabled host screens.

The capability to run Customizer with both Host On-Demand and Personal Communications is significant in two ways, according to Anthony. "It allows our SNA-based customers to take advantage of Web rejuvenation capabilities," he says. "[Second,] if you have an environment of mixed users, some using Host On-Demand while some are using Personal Communications, you can use a single approach to rejuvenating applications."

SecureWay Host Publisher V2 is a tool for integrating multiple data sources into a single Web page on a client browser. This Java-based product currently supports the S/390, RS/6000, Windows NT and Sun Solaris platforms. Support for the AS/400 will be added during the first quarter of 2000. Enhancements in Version 2 include: support for multiple platforms; the capability to create host integration objects that can be reused within Java development tools; inclusion of a runtime version of IBM WebSphere Standard Edition; and integration with IBM's connector solutions, such as MQSeries and CICS.

"Over time IBM has learned that, while many of its customers will want to take applications as-is and extend them to the Web, a good portion want to be able to add new business logic to those applications," says Mike McCarthy, program director of Host Integration Clients for IBM SecureWay Software. For this reason, SecureWay has been enhanced to offer a set of APIs that allow users to integrate host data into any applications they write.

The driving force behind SecureWay is connecting end users to back-end information, according to Anthony. "It's no longer simply about connecting end-users to legacy information," he says. "This scenario has grown to include business partners and customers."

Timothy Sloane, managing director with Aberdeen Group Inc. (Boston, Mass.), points to the SecureWay product offerings as another instance where "IBM has done an incredible job of branding e-business." The real question now is whether or not IBM will market SecureWay to its individual server markets, particularly the AS/400. "There are competitors in the AS/400 market [Wall Data, Attachmate, CST, WRQ, to name a few] that are probably better known and get better distribution from the AS/400 group than IBM's own software products," he says.

Sloane points out that the SecureWay family is comprehensive product that address a number of issues, from security to directory to Web publishing. "But just introducing a better mousetrap doesn't automatically make it the preferred product on the AS/400 base," he says. "They need to take those messages now and tune them to the AS/400 community."