Bug Busters Adds Broadcast Option for OS/400 Object Distribution
March 30, 2004 Alex Woodie
Object distribution in large AS/400 and iSeries networks should be dramatically accelerated with the latest release of Bug Busters Software Engineering‘s Remote Software Facility. RSF 7.1 borrows a page from the peer-to-peer (P2P) networking handbook with a new broadcasting feature called Relay Distribution, which allows the work of distributing OS/400 objects to be spread across the computers in a network, instead of requiring a central server to process updates one by one.
Large OS/400 shops–those with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of remotely located AS/400 and iSeries servers to support–face difficulty in distributing OS/400 objects in a timely manner, says Bug Busters’ chief executive, Bruce Lesnick. “If you have a large network, and you want to distribute objects, there are few practical ways to do that today,” Lesnick says.
Lesnick hopes to change that with an upcoming release of his company’s RSF tool. RSF has been adopted by thousands of OS/400 shops and independent software vendors because of what it does best: It provides a simple, powerful, and OS/400-centric way to automate the distribution of OS/400 objects and data, over any supported OS/400 network.
There are several new features in RSF 7.1 that should accelerate object distribution. The biggest improvement should come as a result of the new Relay Distribution capability, which allows each receiving machine to become an additional sending machine, passing on the received objects to other machines known to it. With Relay Distribution, the distributed package of objects cascades through the network, aided by an increasing number of helpers, each adding their processing power and communication resources to the task of distributing objects. Lesnick calls this “broadcasting” and says it could cut distribution time from, say, nine hours to one hour. This is a hypothetical number, and results vary under different conditions.
This new Relay Distribution feature uses P2P networking principles popularized by Napster and other P2P networks, although RSF is more of a push program controlled by a server, while P2P programs are primarily pull-oriented and controlled by the client. Nonetheless, they are similar in some respects. In both cases, programs repeatedly ping other computers on the network and attempt to establish a connection for the download, and once the download is complete, the client transforms into a server to further accelerate the distribution of a file.
RSF 7.1 contains another new feature, which is closely tied to the new Relay Distribution, to distribute an object to multiple locations with a single command. “RSF always had powerful features. You could pull up a list of object to distribute, pick a target, press Enter, and it happens,” Lesnick says. “What’s being added is, the target can be a list of other machines.”
The third new feature that should help speed object distribution is the Fallback Connections feature. RSF is often set up to run in batch mode at night, and occasionally an administrator will wake up to find that several OS/400 servers didn’t get the required update because the network connection had failed. With Fallback Connections, the administrator can define a chain of secondary, or fallback, connections to use when the primary connection is unavailable. If the primary connection is a network or an Internet connection, the first fallback connection might be a dial-up link, or another network connection with a different IP address or other parameters specified, the company says.
RSF 7.1 also includes full support for independent auxiliary storage pools (iASPs). Users can now specify, with greater granularity, the exact starting point and ending point for objects being distributed to and from iASPs.
RSF has been used for years by thousands OS/400 shops, and it is also used as a support tool by some of the industry’s best known software companies, including LANSA. Other independent software vendors are also OEM customers of the Seattle company’s software, including Aldon Computer Group, which uses RSF’s object distribution capabilities in its change management software as the engine for propagating changes.
Beta tests for RSF 7.1 are being finished, and the product should be available sometime in the second quarter of 2004. License fees will stay the same, at $575 per machine; maintenance is $86 per year. For more information and free trial downloads, go to www.bugbusters.net.