NetManage Fixes Printing, Performance Issues in Web-Based Emulation
Published: November 27, 2007
by Alex Woodie
NetManage addressed nagging performance and printing issues in its Web-to-host product line this month with the release of OnWeb for iSeries version 7.2.5. On the performance front, support for AJAX will dramatically boost the screen response time of customers that have elected to move their emulators to the Web. And a new feature called "iPrint" will finally give OnWeb for iSeries customers the capability to print PDF documents on local printers without resorting to messy modifications and custom development.
On November 15, NetManage refreshed its entire product line with the delivery of OnWeb Server and OnWeb for iSeries version 7.2.5, OnWeb Web-to-Host version 5.3.1, RUMBA version 7.5.1, RUMBA FTP version 4.2.1, and ViewNow X Server version 9.6.1. Support for Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system is the main new feature appearing in the RUMBA and ViewNow lines of emulators. But more compelling features can be found in OnWeb, a collection of products that allow users to accomplish a range of tasks, such as delivering a 5250 screen through a Web browser, exposing legacy code as a Web service, or developing a composite application that touches several legacy sources.
According to Archie Roboostoff, senior manager of product management at NetManage, the 300 percent performance boost is the most important of several changes introduced with OnWeb version 7.5.2. Internal tests show the new release of the OnWeb server (which runs on Windows, Linux, or System i's PASE servers) supports 300 percent more users on the same hardware, and also decreases the response time between the server and the client by a factor of three compared to previous releases of the product, Roboostoff says.
That performance boost will be welcomed by NetManage's extensive RUMBA customer base, which NetManage is encouraging to upgrade to the OnWeb product, Roboostoff says. "What we had realized was our customers were hesitant to leave our emulation products because the TN3270 and TN5250 data streams are very thin and very fast, very high performance," he says. "Our brokerage house customers and financial customers that are used to that sub-second response time, when we moved them over to OnWeb and gave them an emulator but through a browser . . . no matter how fast the server is, it's still going to be slower than terminal emulation."
The problem stems from the additional data--about 30 KB--that each HTML page in a browser-based emulator brings over-and-above the 5250 data stream itself. With AJAX in place, that 30 KB traffic can be reduced into the single-digit KB range, putting its screen response time much closer to that of a traditional twinax display.
OnWeb Server now ships with a series of preconfigured templates to get customers quickly up and running with an AJAX-enhanced, Web-based emulator. "Within five minutes customers can take a green screen that was on a terminal and publish it out to a Web page," Roboostoff says. "Adding AJAX support puts us in a position to have OnWeb replace a number of our emulation clients worldwide."
The price/performance metric of OnWeb for iSeries will also improve thanks to support for batch processing in the new release. In previous releases, the product, which works with the System i's native HTTP Server (the one powered by Apache) ran in interactive, or OLTP, mode, making it more expensive for customers to run on IBM boxes that charged more for interactive CPW. With the new release, that is no longer an issue. "It's allowing our customers to stay on that iSeries, stay on that green screen, without having to use those higher level processors," Roboostoff says.
The last big improvement that should result in NetManage's extensive base of AS/400, iSeries, i5, and System i customers jumping for joy is the new support for local printing in OnWeb 7.5.2. Thanks to the new iPrint print engine, customers using Web-based emulators can now print PDF and Excel files on their local printers, without needing a local print terminal or doing any custom coding.
Roboostoff acknowledges the inability to grab PDF print jobs off the i5/OS spool was a sore point for many RUMBA customers, whose IT staffs were forced to custom-code their own solutions if they wanted to print i5/OS-resident PDF files from the OnWeb product, "That was one of the reasons why a number of RUMBA customers didn't move over [to OnWeb]. They said 'If we can't print, forget it,'" he says. "We had a whole bunch of customers doing this on their own, building it themselves, and when we went out to go visit and do feedback checks, they said this would be sweet if it was in the product because it's kind of a nightmare. There wasn't any automatic cleanup of those spool files and those PDFs that get stuck on the server. So they wanted us to go in and put that in the product. To be honest, this should be part of the product."
Roboostoff also hinted at some new stuff that NetManage is working on for 2008. A new release of the company's SOA Planner tool--which was launched about a year ago and records and logs all 5250 and 3270 keystrokes to help shops get a handle on workloads--will bring new features in the areas of fraud detection and compliance management.
And while the new release of RUMBA offers some support for Windows Vista (it's listed in the "Works With" category), a new version of RUMBA due out next summer will feature full certification for the new desktop OS. The big issue with Vista is the lack of support for many legacy protocols, such as DEC data streams and the Token Ring networking protocol.
NetManage took a two-phased approach to supporting Vista, Roboostoff says. First, get a product that works with Vista, and then work with its customers on dealing with the protocols that aren't supported in Vista. "Because honestly, if we abandoned those protocols, became fully certified for Vista, and Rumba wasn't working with those protocols, you'd see us lose about 40 percent of our revenues. So we needed to work with those customers very closely," he says.
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