Portal software maker Hummingbird Communications is jumping into the web-to-host market with a product that lets users turn the typical mainframe green screen into a user-friendly, browser-based product.
Hummingbird has come out with e-Gateway, a HTML/DHTML-based host access application. E-Gateway provides access to applications from email to legacy business software supported on IBM mainframe and AS/400 hosts.
Hummingbird Asia-Pacific sales director George Lau says a couple of years ago he asked customers whether they had the internet protocol TCP running on their mainframes. Nearly all said no, but today nearly all appear to run TCP. Meta Group recently noted that 70% of the world’s corporate data still resides on mainframes.
Because New Zealand has a high concentration of IBM AS/400 users Hummingbird distributor Paul Leslie of Soft Solutions is targeting AS/400 sites as well as mainframe users. However, because such solutions demand highly skilled people he is looking for AS/400 systems integrators with whom to form a partnership. The product has no local customers yet because it is new to New Zealand, says Leslie.
With its web-to-host product, Hummingbird is competing with the likes of IBM, Attachmate and WRQ. IBM, according to research firm IDC, is the leader in the web-to-host market. Lau claims the overall cost of a Hummingbird solution is less than one from IBM.
Lau says potential customers often ask him if Hummingbird’s product requires any changes to the host software.
“If I said you have to change one line I’m sure I’d be politely but quickly shown to the door,” he says. “But with e-Gateway all the changes are done at the client end, the mainframe applications remain untouched.”
Lau acknowledges that new mission-critical applications that are coming out are web-enabled and have a GUI interface, but says Hummingbird can be used to manage the migration from old legacy systems.
Another product Hummingbird will start selling here is Exceed On Demand, which improves performance for X server environments over low-bandwidth connections.
“The X protocol ... sprays a lot of traffic over the network because it was designed for the LAN," says Leslie. "However, this is a problem in the WAN environment where you are trying to give X server users remote access. This is the problem that Exceed On Demand overcomes.”
Hummingbird in the US also sells e-Toolkit, a designer tool that allows developers to customise e-Gateway's graphical interface using drag-and-drop technology or applets. In addition, mainframe resources can be integrated into Hummingbird's corporate portal, providing single-point access to business information.