There was a time when sitting down at a green screen and interacting with a mainframe was enough. The mainframe’s users (its customers) all worked for the same company and all worked in the company’s offices. Some of these users would be working on screens that were attached to CICS or IMS and they would process forms or answer queries that people phoned in to ask. Even as you picture the scene, you can see the color fading because the snapshot was taken so long ago! Nowadays, people want answers quickly and they want them on their phone or tablet. They certainly expect to be able to login from a browser on any device and interact with an application using a user-friendly front end. And these customers probably don’t work for the company, and are quite likely to take their business elsewhere if they don’t see what they want or get a response quickly enough.
This new type of user has expectations that create a whole new world of problems to be overcome by the mainframe team. The organization owning the mainframe wants to leverage its capabilities to ensure that customers are doing business with them and not any of their competitors. So how can you get from the old world to this brave new world with the minimum of disruption to those applications that have stood the test of time and are still working perfectly?
One very easy way of making this happen is to treat any device that can run a Web browser as a secure 3270 terminal emulator. So in our modern environment, we might want to let staff use their own devices to access the mainframe – what they call BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Or you may decide to extend the reach of your existing host applications so they can be used on smartphones and tablets. And you may want to include Mac and iPad users as well. And while you’re making these changes, you might want to extend host applications to client workstations that use non-American character sets (eg Europe, China, Japan, Russia, wherever). In addition, you may decide to modernize or eliminate completely any 3270 terminal emulation that’s in use at your site. And you can do all this with Virtel Web Access (VWA) – available from SDS.
Virtel Web Access extends host applications to thin-client Web browsers over secure IP connections. There is nothing to install or support outside the host. All the users need to do is ensure their Web browsers point to the appropriate pre-defined URL. And if you replace that legacy 3270 terminal emulation with Virtel Web Access, you remove the time it takes and the cost of supporting an ever-changing list of client technologies.
Mainframers prefer to keep the technology they look after on the mainframe, and that’s how VWA works. The installation, management, and support are all host-based. The simple host-centric support results in a low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and an early ROI (Return On Investment). Estimates suggest that users can save up to 80% in licensing fees. In addition, there’s none of the costs, complexity, latency, and capacity issues that are usually associated with middle-tier servers.
VWA is more secure than telnet/TN3270 terminal emulation solutions. And because there is no data stored on the client end, there’s no corporate data exposure in case client devices are lost or stolen. It supports industry-standard IP security technology: SSL (AT-TLS) encryption, PROXY, SSO, etc. The VPN-less encrypted connections operate in asynchronous disconnected mode, unlike permanently opened TN3270 connections that expose unencrypted data over permanently-opened telnet tunnels. Incoming data is analyzed for unwanted insertions. Each exchange is authenticated by unique token and IP address. And HTTP-to-SNA conversion ‘brakes & redirects’ connections behind the host’s firewall.
Quite a nifty solution to the problem of how to modernize applications, don’t you think?