Renex Puts Host Access in a Box

Accessing mainframe and AS/400 data from a Web browser is nothing new. For more than two years, 5250 and 3270 emulation software that lets users access host data using Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers has become ubiquitous, available from vendors such as Attachmate, NetManage, WRQ, Wall Data and, of course, IBM.

Yet another software vendor, Renex Corp. (Manassas, Va.), is taking a unique approach to Web-to-host connectivity by offering the eZGATE Host Access Server, a standalone hardware and software product that consists of a Windows NT server and a combination of the companyÕs connectivity, security and license-management software. Introduced in September, the server is designed to let users access mainframe and AS/400 data from PCs and Web browsers without disrupting existing servers or having to worry about configuring a new server.

“Many users are looking for a network appliance for mainframe and AS/400 communications, both because it’s easy to set up and easy to use. Our solution is a plug-and-play black box,” says Scott McMillan, VP of sales at Renex.

The eZGATE hardware is a 1U high Intel server equipped with a 700 MHz Pentium III processor, up to 1 GB memory, and mirrored 17 GB hard disks. The serverÕs chassis measures 1.7 inches high, 16.75 inches wide and 22 inches deep. It ships with Microsoft Corp.Õs Windows NT 4.0 and Microsoft’s IIS Web server, which Renex sets up and configures for a user’s domain.

Renex will bundle any of its software products with the server, according to user specification. This includes: eZ3270 and eZ5250 Web-to-host emulation clients for Windows; BlueZone Mainframe and BlueZone AS/400 desktop emulation clients for Windows; Renex Web Manager Interface, which handles user authentication, access control, configuration, LU/device name assignment and user/group assignment; Renex Security Server for SSL and authentication; and Renex License Manager.

To access host applications with eZGATE, users click on a link which loads an Active X or Java JAR file presenting a configured AS/400 interface. All sessions are configured by the Web server when they are launched. Because the host session runs outside the browser memory space, it will not be lost when users close the browser, or if the browser crashes.