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Invisible E-Commerce--Transaction Processing over the Internet

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It's incredible that the Internet age was in its infancy just a decade ago, back when Web browsers had been recently introduced and rapidly adopted, transforming the way business is conducted. In fact, the pressure to take advantage of B2B solutions to dynamically interface core systems with trading partners didn't really pick up steam until the mid to late 1990s. And now, the focus has stepped beyond the requirement to merely have a corporate Web site with dynamic, browser-based application interfaces. The latest stage of e-business involves XML/Web Services, marketplace integration, and Internet-based EDI solutions. This most recent evolution of e-business can reap tremendous benefits for those organizations able to implement these technologies, but there's typically a learning curve and some planning required to effectively integrate existing legacy application environments.

There are two distinct paths that today's IT manager must follow to keep an organization competitive and productive with the capabilities of the Internet, both now and in the near future. First, it's important that managers understand what is technically possible with XML and Web Services as well as EDI modernization solutions with EDI-INT. Designing (or selecting) an e-commerce framework that can tightly integrate to the back office while providing external interaction over various Internet channels--using Web browsers, XML, and EDI--is an essential step.

Second, depending upon the vertical industry focus of the business, there are likely standards bodies, e-marketplaces, global registries, government regulations, or e-partnership opportunities that will affect--and even drive--the implementation of this technology for an organization. In this article, we'll look at some examples of these, such as the UCCNet Global Registry, HIPAA in the healthcare industry, and the Covisint marketplace for automotive suppliers. If your business is being mandated to conform to or integrate with an entity or governing body such as these, then the Vertical Marketplace Integration discussion will be especially meaningful.

 

 

Understand the Technology Options

Anyone in IT these days without a basic understanding of XML may have just crawled out of a bomb shelter. XML has been defined and discussed and analyzed in just about every issue of every technology magazine--not to mention in presentations at conferences and user group meetings--for years now. (See the latest from MC Mag Online: "XML for Dummies, Idiots, and People Like Me Who Just Don't Know."

Most software vendors have incorporated XML into their products. Let's just say it's a way to describe data in a standardized, platform-independent way and should be the mechanism that you use to exchange transactional data with your trading partners in the future. In addition to the XML meta-language for data, there are some other components to learn, such as document type definition (DTD) or XML schemas, which describe the data definitions and relationships with an XML document, and Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL), which transforms XML into another format, such as an EDI document, an HTML Web page, another XML document, or possibly a map to database records. For more information on XML, refer to www.xml.org.

The key point, for the purposes of this discussion, is that XML provides a common language so that you can use the Internet to exchange transactional data between your production systems and the systems of your trading partners. A number of organizations have implemented simple two-way XML solutions in which they exchange XML documents via one of the Internet protocols--HTTP (interactive Web), FTP (file transfer), or SMTP (email). When two entities decide to use XML to transact electronically with each other, they must agree upon specific transactions and the layout of the XML document; this can sometimes be a time-consuming effort. Many industries have formulated standard transactions and XML formats that you can use as a starting point. In XML lingo, this is often referred to as the "message payload." To see some of the standards that have been defined for various industries, check out www.xml.org and www.openapplications.org.

Ellett Brothers, for Example

Ellett Brothers is one of the nation's leading distributors of outdoor sporting goods, with annual sales of $150 million, primarily in the areas of hunting/shooting, archery, and camping equipment. They sell their goods through a number of different sales channels. Over 100 inside sales reps and 30,000 retail outlets carry Ellett products. In addition to selling through these traditional channels, Ellett does approximately 20% of their order count (1,100-1,200 orders daily) via e-commerce, with electronic transaction processing between various online retail outlets and their externally hosted ISP dealer site.

Because Ellett transacts electronically with a variety of different external entities (such as Outdoor Interactive, Eders, Gear Out, and TruServ), they have an e-commerce framework, using LANSA, that supports different formats. This e-commerce framework supports two-way, automated transaction processing over the Internet, using XML, EDI, flat files, XLS, and even Microsoft Access Database files (MDBs). All of the processing occurs on their iSeries with direct integration to their Daly.Commerce ERP system. Because Ellett was an early adopter of this technology, they have supported whatever format their partners have requested for B2B automation. However, going forward, they hope to standardize on XML. Figure 1 illustrates the Ellett solution.
http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/MC%20Press%20article%20-%20Eden%20WattV400.png

Figure 1: The Ellett Brothers e-commerce framework supports two-way automated transaction processing.

This dynamic, system-to-system method of conducting business is quite profitable for Ellett Brothers, and they have plans to move forward very rapidly with the e-commerce side of their business. In the coming months, they will be extending their e-commerce framework to exchange product, order, and invoice information over the internet with GSI Commerce (which will include CBS Sports Line and 14 other Web sites), DoItBest, Ace, TruValue, and Gaylaan.

What About EDI?

Electronic data interchange (EDI), the original solution for paperless, electronic transaction processing between trading partners, has been around for almost 30 years, which is an extremely long time in computer years. A large number of organizations have implemented EDI, and it's predicted that approximately 20% of businesses are doing EDI with 20% of their partners. In some cases, large hubs such as WalMart have dictated that all of their suppliers do business using EDI. This demand has helped to securely position the technology.

There are two flavors of EDI--UN/EDIFACT, which is the primary standard internationally, and ANSI X.12, which is the North American standard. Standards organizations exist for both types, and the specifications for transactions have been well-documented and established, with a number of different versions released over the years. Translation software (to decipher the cryptic EDI documents) is required on each trading partner's system. EDI has historically been implemented as a batch processing solution, with batches of orders or invoices being sent to the trading partner once or twice a day. Also, typically a value-added network (VAN) intermediary has been used to transmit the orders between trading partners, which can be expensive for large-volume transactions. In the past, dedicated or dial-up lines to the VANs were set up. However, today, many VANs are providing Internet access as well.

Many industry analysts predict EDI's demise and its replacement with XML and Web Services solutions over time. No doubt this is where the world is going, but how quickly? I suspect that EDI will be around for a long time. There are too many installations in place that work very well, and there's too much time and money invested. Modernizing EDI solutions can be a good interim step to alleviate expensive VAN charges and to take advantage of the dynamic nature of the Internet to exchange EDI transactional data in real time.

The EDI-INT (Electronic Data Interchange--Internet Integration) specification is intended to address the need to exchange EDI documents over the Internet securely, using standard Internet protocols such as SMTP and HTTP. Specifically, the EDI-INT AS1 specification outlines how to use secured email via S/MIME over SMTP to send EDI attachments. EDI-INT AS2 outlines process-to-process (real-time) EDI based on secured HTTP using SSL (128 bit encryption). For more details, visit the Internet Engineering Task Force site. You can also look for Mike Faust's upcoming article on this topic.

The Next Generation: Web Services

Web Services have widespread industry support. From IBM, Sun, and Microsoft to the major ERP vendors to technology and e-commerce firms, essentially all the major vendors in the technology industry are basing their future product platforms around Web Services. Research firms have surveyed organizations, and statistics show that the majority of large corporations are committed to Web Services as the future for e-business.

The key specification for Web Services is Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), an XML-based messaging protocol with a number of components, such as the SOAP Message Structure, which includes specifications for an electronic envelope, header, and message payload (XML). Web Services also uses Web Services Description Language (WSDL) and Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI) registries. Another key specification for Web Services, and an extension to SOAP, is ebXML (www.ebxml.org), which is under development by UN/CEFACT and OASIS and has already been selected by some industries as their standard e-commerce messaging protocol (more on this when we talk about Covisint).

It is not necessary to delve into the complexities of the SOAP specifications to understand what Web Services will do for your organization when your systems and the technology are ready. Some have likened Web Services to the next stage of evolution of both EDI and distributed application solutions. When Web Services are realized, the functionality and information on your external trading partners' systems will eventually be exposed as callable and accessible routines for your own applications (and vice versa). To understand the concept of the UDDI registry, think of it as an electronic Yellow Pages. Your application software can go to the UDDI to find out how to talk to your trading partners' computers. When this level of interoperability between systems can be achieved, many sophisticated applications and operational efficiencies, both with the supply chain and internally, will be possible. There should never be the need to re-enter details that have already been entered into a system (whether it is inside your organization or not), and this will result in less errors and far less data entry. Immediate access to information about order status, deliveries, finances, insurance eligibility, or whatever is fundamental to your business will be available regardless of the actual system it is housed on. Access to external modules, like tax calculators or currency conversion, will be accessible by external callable interfaces and may not need to be installed or coded on your system in the future.

Both IBM and Microsoft are already offering UDDI registries, which are synchronized daily. For more information, go to Microsoft's Business Registry Node page and IBM's UDDI Business Registry page.

Although this is undoubtedly the way of the future, most organizations will not be ready to deploy full-blown Web Services just yet; however, this should not stop you from taking advantage of the many benefits possible with B2B automation solutions. Your organization may want to move into e-commerce transaction processing by using two-way XML solutions as in the Ellett Brothers example. Or maybe you'd prefer to modernize EDI by processing over the Internet, with a plan for how this will eventually evolve into a Web Services solution.

Vertical Marketplace Integration

Depending on the business focus of your organization, there may be standards, marketplaces, portals, or registries that you will need to understand to exchange information electronically. Here are a couple of examples to give you an idea of how these mandates and initiatives are affecting organizations in different industries.

UCCnet

UCCnet is the Uniform Code Council's not-for-profit, tax-exempt subsidiary, providing e-commerce standards for the 23 industries served by the UCC. In partnership with EAN International, UCC has more than 1 million member companies and supports more than 5 billion scanning transactions per day. UCCnet is a global marketplace for registering any barcoded product for access by manufacturing, distribution, and retail organizations. The UCCnet's mission is standardization of item information and item identification, along with a central Internet registry for synchronization of product information--and all of it accessible by all trading partners. The food industry has been mandated to comply with UCCnet this year.

If your organization needs to register products with UCCnet or retrieve product information, you may submit your electronic transactions in either XML or EDI format. UCCnet provides specifications for the acceptable transactions and their format. In addition to enabling your systems to exchange these transactions electronically, providing the appropriate data (including GTIN--Global Trade ID Number, matching your item number) may be a challenge if your legacy system database does not contain all of the necessary item information. Products are available on the market to assist with UCCnet compliance, including both e-commerce transactional interfaces and item information.

HIPAA

Anyone in the healthcare industry will certainly know what HIPAA is. It stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Passed by Congress in 1996, it mandates many reforms in the healthcare industry, including the requirement to standardize on electronic transactions for exchange of patient information. The healthcare industry is actually the largest sector in the U.S. economy, representing $1 trillion in expenditures annually, so this government regulation affects many organizations. Even organizations that self-fund their employee benefit plans may be affected.

The original intent of this act was twofold: to protect the privacy of patient records and to save the healthcare industry literally billions of dollars by standardizing code sets and health identifiers, allowing the exchange of standard electronic transactions, and eventually eliminating expensive paper-based processing. The dates have been extended, and the current date by which all organizations must be HIPAA-compliant is October 2003, with testing by April 2003.

The standard put in place by the government is, surprisingly, not XML, but EDI ANSI X.12. Twelve-key transactions for exchanging patient inquiries on eligibility and claims status, as well as claims processing, enrollment, and premium payment, have been defined. Covered entities must use these transaction types when exchanging this type of information between external entities.

Because there are hefty fines for organizations not compliant by the due date, many are busy looking for solutions to enable e-transactions. Unfortunately, though, they are not all concerned with ensuring they achieve a level of improved operational efficiency in this first implementation. In order to achieve this, effective integration to their legacy systems environments is key. Use of the Internet to exchange this information is also an opportunity to save on transaction costs.

Covisint

The Covisint marketplace was originally conceived and funded by many of the big automakers, such as Ford, General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, Nissan, and Renault, who wanted to produce a single, global B2B supplier exchange for the automotive industry. The primary goal of this e-commerce initiative was to realize streamlined supply chain efficiencies, ultimately producing cost savings.

Since its beginnings in early 2000, Covisint has become an independent entity, offering a number of online services to the automotive industry, including auctions, product catalogs, quote manager, and portal services. Covisint was also intended to serve as a transactional portal to replace EDI with XML and Web Services for the automotive suppliers. Some of the big automakers are pushing their suppliers to transact electronically, using XML, with Covisint. Because the Auto Industry Action Group (AIAG) has sanctioned ebXML and OASIS (XML) as their standards for the industry, Covisint is now using these standards as its interchange strategy with suppliers and OEMs.

For many automotive suppliers, Covisint is just one new e-channel that they must conquer in their drive to streamline their business through effective use of e-commerce. Figure 2 illustrates the vision of one such automotive supplier who envisions exchanging both XML and EDI over the Internet with intermediaries such as Covisint as well as with suppliers and vendors directly.
http://www.mcpressonline.com/articles/images/2002/MC%20Press%20article%20-%20Eden%20WattV401.jpg

Figure 2: This is an example of an automotive supplier with multiple e-channels.

Application Integration Considerations

In moving forward with any of these new technologies, a critical success factor will be how well you have designed the integration to your back-end legacy systems that are still the life and breath of your day-to-day business operations. For many of us, that means implementing these solutions with tight interaction to the iSeries, RPG or COBOL, and DB2/400-based application suites. With the press and so many vendors touting solutions that need to run on Windows and Unix servers, sometimes this can be confusing; however, all of these capabilities are available for the iSeries platform using both IBM and IBM iSeries Business Partners' software solutions. And it goes without saying that you will have a much easier job of accomplishing dynamic integration to your business applications suite if you implement your Internet solutions on the same platform. Maintenance, over time, will also be easier and less costly for your organization in this scenario.

Summary

The Internet and the rapid evolution of Internet technology has changed the way we must do business. It's crucial that we in IT stay abreast of these developments so that we can play the all-important role of assisting organizations in staying current and competitive in today's challenging marketplaces. The technical capabilities of XML, EDI-INT, and Web Services are important to understand for this current stage of e-commerce, but equally important are the movements and pressures within the vertical industry of your business. We've looked at a few examples--UCCnet, HIPAA, and Covisint--but there are many, many more, in just about every industry imaginable, that may be opportunities for your organization to move forward electronically.

Eden Watt is LANSA's Director of Professional Services for North America. She and her project teams have been involved in the management and design of some significant e-business deployments, including many of the early iSeries-based Web sites, wireless, and even Web Services solutions. Eden has written numerous articles for technology publications and is co-author of the new book Understanding e-Business Application Integration by MC Press. She is a regular presenter at COMMON and frequently speaks at conferences and user group meetings. She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Eden Watt

Eden Watt, PMP, is a project director and consultant with over two decades of experience in Information Technology projects, overseeing application modernization and innovative solution delivery for clients. With her strategic partnerships, Eden can offer both consulting services and innovative software solutions to answer many of today's challenging needs, particularly in the area of evolving traditional applications to take advantage of advanced technology. She can be reached at [email protected] or www.linkedin.com/in/edenwatt.

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    It’s time to take action and protect IBM i and the network that connects to it. This on-demand webinar will help you gain an understanding of the relationships between:

    - Viruses and the integrated file system (IFS)
    - Power Systems and Windows viruses
    - PC-based anti-virus scanning vs native IBM i scanning
    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. Learn the facts to ensure you're fully-protected.

  • Business Process Automation with Robot

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    Automate Process Flow Through the Data Center
    Typical “computerized” business processes are a combination of multiple schedulers, operational scripts, CL programs, and manual file checking, all backed up with the trusty runbook.
    Is there a better way to manage business processes?
    It is a common misconception that a business process cannot be automated if it’s too complicated or requires that someone verify each step. We’re here to tell you there is a better way to manage your business—process automation is possible!
    Take 30 minutes to learn the options for automating your business process flow and how they fit into your data center processing, including cases of:
    - Complex or iterative schedules
    - Event-driven dependencies
    - Multi-platform dependencies
    - Dynamically calculated parameters
    - Exception notification
    - SAP and Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne integration
    How do I know business process automation is effective?
    If you have any doubts that automating complex business processes will improve your level of service, you’ll also hear a success story from the senior systems administrator at Trident Seafoods who embraced automation using the Robot solution and is reeling in the benefits!

  • Find Out Why You Should Keep Data on IBM i

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    It’s simple. IBM i is the most reliable, securable, and powerful platform to house your critical business data.
    IBM i was built for business and has added features and functionality over the years to keep up with modern business needs. You can trust it to run your business, access your data in real-time, and keep your data secure. Plus, IBM i can scale to your business and handle all of your critical data.
    Can your other platforms do that?
    We didn’t think so.
    Watch this 30-minute webinar to learn why you should keep your data on IBM i, including:
    - IBM i is reliable
    - IBM i offers fast and secure real-time data access
    - IBM i helps your business prepare for tomorrow
    Plus, we demonstrate how Sequel Data Access helps you modernize IBM i data access and meet your business needs.

  • Mobile Apps for IBM i Monitoring

    SB Halcyon WC Generic

    Overnight and weekend support can be a minefield for operations teams tasked with attempting to maintain system availability, especially when they must rely on laptop-based VPN access—where a delayed response can prove costly.
    With over 2 billion smartphone users worldwide, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to use the BYOD movement to your advantage and start managing your IT infrastructure from the palm of your hand. Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how Halcyon has modernized this crucial layer of support by introducing mobile applications for IBM i monitoring.
    You’ll hear how one company has used the Enterprise Console mobile app to provide a valuable audit trail and speed up response time. You’ll also learn:
    - The benefits of mobile apps
    - How to respond to critical messages within seconds
    - How to get notifications your way on your device
    - How to set up escalation, ensuring alerts are always handled in a timely fashion
    If your team is responsible for managing IBM i applications and services after regular business hours, you won’t want to miss this one!

     

  • Speed Up Your Manufacturing and Distribution with Paperless Processes

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    Your ERP system —whether it’s JDE World, Enterprise One, Infor, Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics, VAI, or anything else—is essential to maintaining your company’s key business information and processes. But you’re constantly generating and receiving paper and electronic documents, too, and it’s hard to keep everything straight. So, you wind up chasing documents and data around—and keeping your customers and vendors waiting.
    It’s time to make life easier and make your customers happier. With an electronic document management system, you can integrate with your ERP to keep all of your key documents and data in one spot.
    And when all of your documents are stored digitally, you can speed up your processes and get key documents (like purchase orders and invoices) approved faster.
    Watch the webinar and learn how to:
    - Integrate a document management system with your ERP
    - Capture all of your key shop floor, order, and shipment documents in one central repository
    - Improve customer, vendor, and employee response times
    - Accomplish more work without adding additional staff
    It’s time to deliver your shipments faster and keep your customers happy by streamlining your paperwork processes.

  • Dock Door Signing Made Easy

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    How long does dock door signing take your organization? Too long if you’re still using manual processes and paper.
    From generating to collating to printing to routing to signing, manual processes and paper slow down your organization—and your delivery times. Electronic documents and digital signature capture can change all of that. And your organization will be able to create, route, approve (with digital signatures), and retrieve documents faster.
    Learn how digital signature capture helps you:
    - Eliminate steps in your approval processes
    - Improve auditability
    - Reduce customer service time to resolve questions
    Plus, we’ll demonstrate how digitizing signatures and documents will reduce your organization’s costs over the long haul.

  • 5 Reasons Developers Love Robot Schedule

    SB HelpSystems WC Generic

    Why AppDev Should Embrace Automation
    Your application development team is an expensive resource that works hard to improve business processes, yet more and more IBM i shops are putting AppDev in charge of managing day-to-day system operations.
    Instead of taking their attention away from the website, business analytics, mobile, security, SQL data access, and more, streamline operations with automation and build in notifications so your teams have visibility into processing when they need it, and can manage the rest by exception.
    In just 30 minutes, our experts will show how AppDev teams can take advantage of Robot automated operations on IBM i and beyond so they can:
    - Stop programming for multi-platform job and file event dependencies
    - Stop struggling with incorrect parameter values
    - Stop wondering where to fit a process into daily, weekly, or monthly cycles
    - Stop the on-call headaches, the firefighting, and the lack of progress cycle
    - Go ahead, give your AppDev team a productivity boost!

  • Affordable Query Tool for Software Developers

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    NGS’ Software Developer Kit (SDK) gives IBM i developers comprehensive query, dynamic mobile reporting, analytics and Web report design features at an affordable cost. Install and create meaningful outputs for managers in one day! Web page and portal integration, email, FTP are included.
    The $895* SDK includes a one user license, online training, user manuals, one year of software maintenance; toll-free support and online incident reporting.
    - Want to modernize beyond Query/400 and PC files transfers?
    - Need a Web reporting solution without the learning curve and overhead of DB2 Web Query?
    - Have many reporting needs, but a tight budget and small staff?
    View the demo and request a FREE TRIAL of the SDK.
    * Limited time offer.

  • Your introduction to RCAC and Authority Collection

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    IBM has provided us with two powerful and very exciting security enhancements in the last two versions of IBM i.

    Scott Forstie of IBM joins Carol Woodbury to demonstrate and describe the V7R2 feature called Row and Column Access Control (RCAC), which extends how you define which users have access to specific rows in a database file. RCAC also provides a way to mask data for all or selected users.

    The recently released V7R3 adds Authority Collection. Authority Collection provides organizations and vendors with the ability to know exactly what authority is required to perform a task, eliminating the guesswork. Gone is the need to set *PUBLIC authority on database files to *ALL or to automatically grant service accounts *ALLOBJ special authority just because you’re unsure of what authority is required.

    Watch Scott and Carol as they discuss these and other new security features delivered in V7R2 and V7R3.

  • ​Getting Started with IBM i Security: Event Auditing

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Learn why event auditing is necessary and how to configure it
    Experts’ fears surrounding the risks associated with poor configuration were recently confirmed by the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study. Published annually, the results reveal most Power Systems lack adequate security controls and auditing measures.
    In this fast-paced webinar series, leading experts Robin Tatam and Carol Woodbury share insight into critical areas of IBM i security.
    This second session of the series introduces event auditing, with Robin Tatam covering the basics and more:
    - Why auditing is necessary
    - Determine if IBM i auditing is currently active
    - How to configure auditing with one simple command
    - What audit events are recorded (and which are missed!)
    - How high availability (HA) applications often make critical events disappear
    - Event reporting and real-time alerting

  • Getting Started with IBM i Security: Securing PC Access

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Protect your system from unauthorized network access through readily available PC tools

    Experts’ fears surrounding the risks associated with poor configuration were recently confirmed by the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study. Published annually, the results reveal most Power Systems lack adequate security controls and auditing measures.

    In this fast-paced webinar series, leading experts Robin Tatam and Carol Woodbury share insight into critical areas of IBM i security.

    This on-demand webinar will show you how well-known services like FTP and ODBC enable users to access sensitive data without oversight or restrictions. Robin Tatam will also explain what exit programs are and how you can use them to protect your organization.

  • No Time for IBM I Security? No Problem

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    “Security” is definitely on your IT staff’s to-do list, but how often does this item get checked off?

    IT doesn’t have enough time for security—the 2016 IBM i Security Study proves it. The trouble is that data security isn’t a set-and-forget project. Data security on your IBM i requires on-going attention and expertise.

    In this on-demand webinar, you’ll learn how to save time and work more effectively. We’re cutting to the core of IBM i security by outlining the simple strategy developed by our experts.

    You’ll see a straightforward approach to understanding and addressing risk to your IBM i data. We’ll also show you how our world-class security services help people protect business-critical data when they don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to tackle IBM i security on their own.

  • Getting Started with IBM i Security: System Values

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Set the tone for data protection with security-relevant system values

    Experts’ fears surrounding the risks associated with poor configuration were recently confirmed by the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study. Published annually, the results reveal most Power Systems lack adequate security controls and auditing measures.

    In this fast-paced webinar series, leading experts Robin Tatam and Carol Woodbury share insight into critical areas of IBM i security.

    The series opens with an introduction to security-relevant system values.

    System values are one of the fundamental elements of IBM i security. The security system values enable you to “set the tone” of security on your IBM i, enforce password composition rules, and enable auditing. Watch this on-demand webinar to see Carol Woodbury describe these system values and provide guidance on their best practice settings.

  • Getting Started with IBM i Security: Integrated File System (IFS)

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    The IFS is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of IBM i security
    Experts’ fears surrounding the risks associated with poor configuration were recently confirmed by the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study. Published annually, the results reveal most Power Systems lack adequate security controls and auditing measures.
    In this fast-paced webinar series, leading experts Robin Tatam and Carol Woodbury share insight into critical areas of IBM i security.
    This recorded session has Robin Tatam introducing IFS security:
    - Defining IFS
    - How the IFS is configured
    - Common IFS security mistakes
    - What a virus can do to IBM i through the IFS
    - Tracking user activity

  • ​7 Habits of Highly Secure Organizations

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Everyone knows that cyber security is important, but getting started on the road to data protection and compliance can be confusing and intimidating. Understanding common vulnerabilities helps you focus your attention and resources on the areas that need the most help.
    We all want “best-practice” security, but what are top organizations doing to achieve and maintain it?
    Watch this webinar to learn the details about how to develop the seven habits that are part of daily life for secure organizations. You’ll learn how to:
    - Break the Ostrich Syndrome
    - Develop a Security Policy
    - Assess Current Standing
    - Perform Security Event Logging and Review
    - Use “Best of Breed” Technologies
    - Monitor for Ongoing Compliance
    - Plan for the Future
    This on-demand webinar examines what each of these habits means to IBM i, and helps you make sure that you don’t become the next security statistic.

  • An Introduction to PCI Compliance on IBM Power Systems

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    "From the world's largest corporations to small Internet stores, compliance with the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is vital for all merchants who accept credit cards, online or offline, because nothing is more important than keeping your customer’s payment card data secure.” — PCI Security Standards Council
    Complying with the PCI standard is a normal part of doing business in today’s credit-centric world. But, PCI applies to multiple platforms.
    The challenge becomes how to map the general PCI requirements to a specific platform, such as IBM i. And, more importantly, how can you maintain—and prove—compliance?
    Watch this webinar to understand:
    - How PCI requirements relate to IBM i systems
    - IBM i-specific barriers to compliance
    - How PowerTech security solutions help you fulfill PCI requirements, meet compliance guidelines, and satisfy auditors
    You’ll leave with the knowledge and confidence you need to evaluate PCI compliance requirements and prepare your IBM i system for today’s regulatory challenges.

  • Implementing Multiple Layers of Defense

    SB PowerTech WC Generic

    Your IBM i holds a massive amount of data. In most organizations, that data constitutes a mission-critical and high-value asset.

    How do you adequately protect the data residing on your IBM i, given its value to your organization? IBM has provided us with many options for protecting our data, but it’s now always clear how to select and implement the best options for your circumstances.

    This recorded webinar describes IBM i’s different data security options, along with implementation recommendations and tips for getting started. Carol Woodbury, one of the world’s top IBM i security experts, also provides considerations to help you determine how many layers of security are right for your organization.

  • Data Breaches: Is IBM i Really at Risk?

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIBM i is known for its security, but this OS could be more vulnerable than you think.
    Although Power Servers often live inside the safety of the perimeter firewall, the risk of suffering a data leak or data corruption remains high.
    Watch noted IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses common ways that this supposedly “secure” operating system may actually be vulnerable and who the culprits might be.

    Watch the webinar today!

     

  • Easy Mobile Development

    SB Profound WC Generic

    Watch this on-demand webinar and learn how to rapidly and easily deploy mobile apps to your organization – even when working with legacy RPG code! IBM Champion Scott Klement will demonstrate how to:
    - Develop RPG applications without mobile development experience
    - Deploy secure applications for any mobile device
    - Build one application for all platforms, including Apple and Android
    - Extend the life and reach of your IBM i (aka iSeries, AS400) platform
    You’ll see examples from customers who have used our products and services to deliver the mobile applications of their dreams, faster and easier than they ever thought possible!
    Watch this Webinar Now!

  • Profound UI: Unlock True Modernization from your IBM i Enterprise

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    Modern, web-based applications can make your Enterprise more efficient, connected and engaged. This session will demonstrate how the Profound UI framework is the best and most native way to convert your existing RPG applications and develop new modern applications for your business. Additionally, you will learn how you can address modernization across your Enterprise, including databases and legacy source code, with Profound Logic.
    We will demonstrate how Profound UI:
    - Goes beyond simple screen-scraping to truly modernize your RPG applications
    - Uses RPG Open Access and your own RPG code and development talent to modernize
    - Supports rapid development with an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop Designer
    - Integrates with our on-the-fly modernization, mobile development, and Enterprise Modernization solutions

  • 5 New and Unique Ways to Use the IBM i Audit Journal

    SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericHigh availability for IBM i has been a hot topic in 2017, jumping 20% from our 2016 survey to take the #2 seat on IT priority lists just behind cybersecurity. And no surprise with these two topics so closely tied to your most valuable asset: your irreplaceable business data.
    With major airline outages last year and the recent ransomware attacks, you must be asking yourself: am I doing everything I can to protect my organization’s data?
    Tune in as our panel of IBM i high availability experts—Tom Huntington, Matt Staddler, and Cole Ragland—deliver lively discussion around the top high availability issues of today, including:

    • Why companies don’t test role swaps when they know they should
    • Whether high availability in the cloud makes sense for IBM i users
    • Why some organizations don’t have high availability yet
    • How to get high availability up and running at your organization
    • High availability considerations for today’s security concerns

    There are no do-overs when it comes to your data. Once it’s gone, it’s gone...unless you have a data replication layer in place to protect it. Learn the value of these strategic solutions and how you can implement them in a hurry—watch now!

     

  • Profound.js 2.0: Extend the Power of Node to your IBM i Applications

    SB Profound WC 5541In this Webinar, we'll demonstrate how Profound.js 2.0 enables you to easily adopt Node.js in your business, and to take advantage of the many benefits of Node, including access to a much larger pool of developers for IBM i and access to countless reusable open source code packages on npm (Node Package Manager).
    You will see how Profound.js 2.0 allows you to:

    • Provide RPG-like capabilities for server-side JavaScript.
    • Easily create web and mobile application interfaces for Node on IBM i.
    • Let existing RPG programs call Node.js modules directly, and vice versa.
    • Automatically generate code for Node.js.
    • Automatically converts existing RPGLE code into clean, simplified Node.js code.

    Download and watch today!

     

  • Make Modern Apps You'll Love with Profound UI & Profound.js

    SB Profound WC 5541Roses are red, your UIs are green...It's time to make your apps proud to be seen!
    Whether you have green screens or a drab GUI, your outdated apps can benefit from modern source code, modern GUIs, and modern tools.
    Profound Logic's Alex Roytman and Liam Allan are here to show you how Free-format RPG and Node.js make it possible to deliver applications your whole business will love.
    In this webinar, you'll learn how you can use both Profound UI and Profound.js to:

    • Transform legacy RPG code to modern free-format RPG and Node.js
    • Deliver truly modern application interfaces with Profound UI
    • Extend your RPG applications to include Web Services and NPM packages with Node.js

    This webinar will include a live product demonstration and Q&A with the presenters.

    Download and watch today!

  • 2017 IBM i Marketplace Revealed

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    IBM i is one of technology’s best-kept secrets, with little information available about what IBM i users are doing on this server. Even companies that use this technology struggle to explain to their own teams what IBM i stands for and who else is using it.
    The IBM i Marketplace Survey—now in its 3rd year—was designed to solve this problem. Watch this on-demand webinar for the exclusive results of the 2017 survey. IBM i Champion Tom Huntington is joined by a panel of technology experts to discuss year-over-year trends and new insights. The panel will discuss:

    • What other platforms do you run alongside IBM i?
    • What programming and Open Source languages are you using?
    • What are your top IT issues?
    • What version of POWER and what OS level is most prevalent?
    • Are you expanding your usage of IBM i?
    • Is IBM i a good ROI?

    The expert panel will provide industry insight and comments about the results. When the webinar concludes, you’ll get access to the full results.

  • Accelerating Programmer Productivity with Sequel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Most business intelligence tools are just that: tools, a means to an end but not an accelerator. Yours could even be slowing you down. But what if your BI tool didn't just give you a platform for query-writing but also improved programmer productivity?
    Watch the recorded webinar to see how Sequel:

    • Makes creating complex results simple
    • Eliminates barriers to data sources
    • Increases flexibility with data usage and distribution

    Accelerated productivity makes everyone happy, from programmer to business user.

  • Business Intelligence is Changing: Make Your Game Plan

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Everyone wants a piece of your business data. But keeping up with data access requests in the era of constantly growing data is a challenge. As a result, your IT department can be overwhelmed, inundated, and constantly needing to play catch-up.
    It’s time to develop a strategy that will help you meet your informational challenges head-on. Watch the webinar to learn how to set your IT department up for business intelligence success in 2018.
    You’ll learn how the right data access tool will help you:

    • Access IBM i data faster
    • Deliver useful information to executives and business users
    • Empower users with secure data access

    Ready to make your game plan and finally keep up with your data access requests?

  • Controlling Insider Threats on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Let’s face facts: servers don’t hack other servers. Despite the avalanche of regulations, news headlines remain chock full of stories about data breaches, all initiated by insiders or intruders masquerading as insiders.
    User profiles are often duplicated or restored and are rarely reviewed for the appropriateness of their current configuration. This increases the risk of the profile being able to access data without the intended authority or having privileges that should be reserved for administrators.
    Watch noted security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses a new approach for onboarding new users on IBM i and best-practices techniques for managing and monitoring activities after they sign on.

  • Don't Just Settle for Query/400...

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    There’s a better way to run your queries. With an advanced query tool like Sequel Data Access, you can deliver the IBM i data your organization needs quickly and efficiently—without the hang-ups.
    In this session, we’ll address common frustrations with Query/400, discuss major data access and distribution trends, and help you understand what to look for in a more advanced query tool.
    Plus, you’ll learn how a tool like Sequel lightens IT’s load by:

    • Accessing real-time data, so you can make real-time decisions
    • Providing run-time prompts, so users can help themselves
    • Delivering instant results in Microsoft Excel and PDF, without the wait
    • Automating the query process with on-demand data, dashboards, and scheduled jobs
    • Watch the webinar and learn why you shouldn’t just settle for Query/400.

     

  • How to Manage Documents the Easy Way

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    What happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Everything is harder.
    Capturing documents means scanning and filing—which takes you away from tasks that actually matter to the business. Managing documents means sorting through an endless sea of shared folders or filing cabinets—and sometimes documents can’t be found. Distributing documents means following a frustrating, manual process for routing documents internally and sending them to vendors and customers.
    You don’t need to stick with status quo anymore.
    Watch the webinar to learn how to put effective document management into practice and:

    • Capture documents faster, instead of wasting everyone’s time
    • Manage documents easily, so you can always find them
    • Distribute documents automatically, and move on to the next task

     

  • Lessons Learned from the AS/400 Breach

    SB_PowerTech_WC_Generic

    Get actionable info to avoid becoming the next cyberattack victim.
    In “Data breach digest—Scenarios from the field,” Verizon documented an AS/400 security breach. Whether you call it AS/400, iSeries, or IBM i, you now have proof that the system has been breached.
    Watch IBM i security expert Robin Tatam give an insightful discussion of the issues surrounding this specific scenario.
    Robin will also draw on his extensive cybersecurity experience to discuss policies, processes, and configuration details that you can implement to help reduce the risk of your system being the next victim of an attack.

  • Monitor VIOS (and AIX) from Your IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) runs on AIX and allows you to share input/output resources across logical partitions. The health of your VIOS server is critical to the performance of all your Power server partitions, so monitoring it is a must.
    Our 2017 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results uncovered a cool trend: an increasing number of IBM i shops are running AIX instances alongside IBM i on Power Systems servers. We like to see these systems playing nicely together on the same server, though it does shine a spotlight on shared resources.
    During this 30-minute recording, our experts demonstrate the new VIOS and AIX monitoring capabilities in Robot Monitor. You’ll learn about:

    • The top AIX metrics that impact VIOS
    • Real-time monitoring with dashboard displays
    • Threshold and notification options
    • Identifying trends to better allocate resources

    With VIOS/AIX running alongside IBM i, you need visibility into your entire Power environment.
    Watch now to see how Robot Monitor can get you there!

     

     

  • Overwhelmed by Operating Systems?

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    You’re responsible for looking after Windows, Linux, AIX, and VIOS, but you worry that you don’t understand their complexities well enough to make your job effective—or easy.
    No problem! Simplify the management of multiple operating systems and applications without becoming experts in each area.
    In this 30-minute recorded webinar, our experts demonstrate how you can:

    • Manage multiple platforms from a central location
    • View monitoring results in a single pane of glass on your desktop or mobile device
    • Take advantage of best practice, plug-and-play monitoring templates
    • Create rules to automate daily checks across your entire infrastructure
    • Receive notification if something is wrong or about to go wrong

    This presentation includes a live demo of Network Server Suite and shows how easy monitoring multiple operating systems and applications can be using point-and-click technology.

     

  • Real-Time Disk Monitoring with Robot Monitor

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    When IBM i disk space pulls its notorious disappearing act, you don’t have time to waste figuring out how the trick is done. You need to know when disk space starts to disappear and where it has gone before system performance and productivity start to suffer.
    Looking behind the curtain to keep a close eye on disk space—especially in a multi-partition environment—can have its challenges, but every good admin can have an ace up their sleeve. Our experts will show you how Robot Monitor can help you pinpoint exactly when your auxiliary storage starts to disappear and why, so you can start taking a proactive approach to disk monitoring and analysis. You’ll also get insight into:

    • The main sources of disk consumption
    • How to monitor temporary storage and QTEMP objects in real time
    • How to monitor objects and libraries in real time and near-real time
    • How to track long-term disk trends

    Start seeing through the sleight of hand and get instant visibility into disk usage. Add advance warning of potential threats and—abracadabra!—you’ll reduce the risk of disk space depletion and curb the sudden flurry of activity to clean things up.

     

  • Stop Re-keying Data Between IBM I and Other Applications

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Still following manual processes for extracting and transferring data across platforms? You’re not alone. Many business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation. And that leads to a lot of manual effort.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying?
    It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, you’ll see a demonstration of how data automation software from HelpSystems will help you finally stop re-keying data.

     

  • Survey Results: 2018 Top Cybersecurity Risks and Mitigation Strategies

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Protecting your organization from cyberthreats has never been more important—or more difficult.
    IT pros have many tactics to choose from, but time (and budgets!) are not unlimited. The key is prioritizing risks and identifying the most effective ways to mitigate the danger.
    In 2018, HelpSystems surveyed more than 600 IT and cybersecurity professionals to find out what security exploits loom largest and what strategies they’re turning to for protection.
    In this on-demand webinar, our team of cybersecurity security experts analyzes results. You’ll learn about:

    • Security strategies your peers are most interested in implementing
    • How managers and executives prioritize security
    • Who is responsible for cybersecurity at organizations around the world
    • Where IT pros turn for assistance with security

    You'll also get practical tips for using this data to drive cybersecurity conversations at your organization.

     

  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!

    SB_Profound_WC_Generic

    When it comes to IBM® Rational® Open Access: RPG Edition (also known as RPG Open Access), there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"

    This Webinar features IBM i expert Alison Butterill, and Profound Logic’s Brian May and Alex Roytman.

     

    Watch the On-demand Webinar Now!

  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic

    Do your users keep paperwork on their desk until it's processed?
    Are people constantly removing documents from filing cabinets?
    What happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Too much paper is wasted—approximately 1,000 pages per month per worker.
    Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets drive your employees crazy.
    And distributing documents to customers, vendors, and business partners is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

    Plus, our experts will provide a live demonstration of how implementing a document management solution will quickly solve your paper-based problems, so you can be more

  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400

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    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days

     

  • TRY the One Package That Solves All Your Document Design and Printing Challenges

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Why support 5 different products, when you can do it all with MarkMagic?

    - Drive over 450 different printer types.
    - Create invoices, statements, checks.
    - Set dynamic rules that transform output on the fly.
    - Conditionally distribute via Email, fax, or PDF.
    - Integrate with your current applications in minutes.
    - Preview printing on screen.
    - Native System i, Windows, AIX, Linux.

    Try MarkMagic today for free

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable.
    Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution.
    Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits.
    Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution.
    Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Keep your critical applications and data available. Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    The thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution.
    Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. brKey features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • MS Office Connector for Query/400...FREE Trial!

    SB NGS PPL 5130

    NGS' Qport Office enables Windows users to run IBM Query/400 queries to:
    - Create and update Excel spreadsheets and Access databases
    - Create Word documents
    - Send to Windows screen and PC printers
    No query conversion is required. Works with i5/OS V5R1 & above. Installs in minutes!
    If you don’t have a budget to replace IBM Query/400, but want your users to have one click enhanced output of their queries.... Request the online license agreement and product download instructions today!
    Offer good through December 31, 2016.

  • Control and Monitor User Access from Desktop PCs (ODBC, FTP)

    SB PowerTech 5422

    Protect your company by monitoring network traffic to your IBM i servers with the industry-leading exit program, PowerTech Network Security.
    Without visibility into IBM i's exit points, your users could be viewing, changing, or even deleting sensitive data—and you wouldn’t know!
    Network Security lets you monitor and control access to over 30 exit points, including:

    - ODBC
    - FTP
    - DDM
    - Remote command
    - Fileserve (mapped drives to IFS)
    It’s easy to set up custom access rules and get notified in real-time when security events occur.
    Stop “back door” access today. Try Network Security free for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429

    More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. Managing the complexities of today's operating systems, business applications, and networks challenges even the most knowledgeable IT professionals. The cost to an enterprise of unplanned downtime, loss of human expertise during sick leave or vacation, and system/application or environmental failure can be devastating. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center (and staff) efficiency.