Hummingbird Revamps HostExplorer Web Product

Just when you thought that the market for terminal-based PC-to-host connectivity solutions had all but leveled off, late 1999 brought a flurry of new developments. First off, upstart NetManage Inc. (Cupertino, Calif.) delivered a wake-up call to the industry as a whole when it purchased Wall Data Inc. (Kirkland, Wash.) in late September. And as 1999 drew to a close, Hummingbird Communications Ltd. (Toronto) issued a revamped version 2.0 of its HostExplorer Web product, complete with a number of new enhancements.

HostExplorer Web has been revamped as a part of his company's "Enterprise Now!" initiative to work with other Hummingbird solutions as a means to provide portal-like access to resources across the enterprise. According to Hummingbird president and CEO Fred Sorkin, "Going forward, we are using the years of knowledge and experience gained with the development of our enterprise deployment and management technologies implemented into our connectivity products to help Hummingbird fulfill its new vision of offering a true Enterprise Information Portal."

New in HostExplorer Web 2.0 is a macro converter for Wall Data and Attachmate scripts that allows organizations with mixed terminal emulation solutions to transition to Hummingbird HostExplorer Web 2.0 by reusing existing macro scripts.

HostExplorer Web 2.0 also includes Hummingbird's JuMP technology, which the company positions as a middle-tier management platform for thin clients that can facilitate the secure traversal of client/server firewalls. Hummingbird says that its JuMP technology now supports the Solaris operating system from Sun Microsystems Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.) as well. HostExplorer Web 2.0 also ships with a new Enterprise Toolkit for JuMP that Hummingbird maintains can enable enterprises to develop third-party Java applets, test them in a segregated environment and then distribute them to end users via JuMP's middle-tier management server.

On the security side of things, HostExplorer Web 2.0 leverages both SSL 3.0- and RSA-based security technologies, which Hummingbird says can enable enterprises to provide secure end user access to host-based applications over either the Internet or corporate extranets. HostExplorer Web 2.0 supports Triple-DES, DES and RC4 encryption schemes, as well as Diffie-Hellman and RSA key exchange.

In the area of SNA gateway support, Hummingbird maintains that HostExplorer Web 2.0 can securely interoperate with any SSL-enabled TN3270 gateway, including IBM's SecureWay Communications Server.

IBM's Host Access Class Library (HACL) is a promising technology because it provides a core set of classes and methods that can theoretically facilitate the development of platform-independent applications that can access host-based information at the data stream level. According to Hummingbird, the integration of HACL with HostExplorer Web 2.0 will help to make good on IBM technology's promise because it enables developers to transform ordinary green screens into GUI-based displays.

New also to HostExplorer Web 2.0 is a feature called DirectStart, which can transparently connect users to host systems by launching applets from desktop icons or from embedded URLs in a Web page. Finally, HostExplorer Web 2.0 now supports Java-based printing from mainframe and AS/400 hosts, which Hummingbird says enables users to print directly from host applications to desktop and network printers.