IBM's New Access Alternatives

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In mid-August, IBM announced two new software packages designed to provide additional client-to-host and Web-to-host connectivity for most IBM platforms—not just the AS/400. These new bundles offer interesting new functionality and consist of the following packages.

IBM Host Access Client Package Version 1

Like IBM’s Client Access family, this package is a client-oriented solution made up of the following software products:

• IBM Personal Communications V5—The popular package provides traditional emulator access to midrange servers, mainframe servers, and ASCII hosts.

• WebSphere Host On-Demand V5—The server-side software package allows you to access host applications and data through a Java-enabled Web browser.

• IBM Screen Customizer—This package allows you to modify host application front-ends so they present a Web look and feel.

For more information on this bundle and availability, see IBM’s Host Access Client Package Web page at network/hostaccess.

WebSphere Host Integration Solution Version 2

This Host Integration bundle is designed to allow you to quickly take your existing applications to the Web with the following products:

• IBM Personal Communications V5

• WebSphere Host On-Demand V5

• IBM Screen Customizer

• WebSphere Host Publisher—This server-side product allows you to consolidate back-end information from different applications on different servers into a single composite application or a Web page for browser delivery.

• IBM Communications Server—This IBM software provides several different types of communication services on your network.

• WebSphere Studio Professional Edition—WebSphere Studio is included to help you create, manage, and debug the multiplatform Web applications.

• WebSphere Application Server (WAS) Advanced Edition—WAS is included to help you deliver the applications you create to the Web.

The interesting part about the Host Integration V2 package is the inclusion of WebSphere Studio and WebSphere Application Server and their relationship to Host Publisher. With these two products added to the bundle, you can use Host Publisher to deliver your host applications directly to the Web and then use WebSphere Studio and WAS to deliver an extended application to your customers.

To extend your applications further, you can buy WebSphere Transcoding Publisher—a server-side package that converts data to a particular destination environment, such as Wireless Market Language. With Transcoding Publisher, you can convert existing applications to Web applications using Host Publisher, add additional functionality with WebSphere Studio, and then push out the new application to emerging environments, such as the wireless Internet. This is a very interesting and powerful combination for e-business. Note, however, that WebSphere Transcoding Publisher is not included in the Host Integration V2 package, so it must be bought separately.

For more information on this bundle and availability, see IBM’s WebSphere Host Integration Solution Web page at software/webservers/hostintegration.

What About Client Access and SecureWay?

You may have noticed two things here. First, the functionality in the Host Access Client Package is very similar to that found in IBM’s Client Access Express for Windows (Express client) product, particularly in the areas of emulation, printing, and some data transfer functionality. However, there are certain features you can find only in the Host Access package—such as attaching to 3270 and ASCII environments as well as OS/400, browser access, SNA and TCP/IP connectivity. And there are other features you can get only in Express client—such as AS/400 Operations Navigator, Remote Command functionality for Windows clients, and the OLE DB provider. Although they contain similar functionality, there are enough differences that you will want to examine both packages carefully before you buy one solution over the other.

The second thing you may have noticed is that many of these products—such as Host On-Demand and Personal Communications—were branded under IBM’s SecureWay brand last year, and now they are part of the WebSphere product line or they have no brand name attached at all except for the name IBM. According to IBM, this shift occurred because the IBM Software Group is narrowing its software branding options so that all products are branded as one of the following: WebSphere, DB2, Lotus, or Tivoli.

As a result, all the SecureWay products that deal with security were moved over to Tivoli (so that these products are now known as Tivoli SecureWay). Any product that is Web-oriented was rebranded to WebSphere (i.e., SecureWay Host On-Demand became WebSphere Host On-Demand).

And some other products that didn’t quite fit in any of the categories were rebranded strictly as IBM products (i.e., SecureWay Personal Communications became IBM Personal Communications). As a result, many product names slightly changed, but

they are the same products that existed before the rebranding. No doubt, IBM will continue to tinker with the product branding, but this is the way IBM is setting this up today.

So, if you’re looking for client-to-host or Web-to-host packages, you may want to check out some of these new IBM offerings. The middleware market is big and booming, and IBM wants to get as big a piece of it as possible with these products.