BCD Adds Green-Screen Access, Archiving to Web Suite
May 18, 2004 Alex Woodie
Business Computer Design Int’l has completed the latest round of development on its triad of OS/400 Web products–the WebSmart application server, the Nexus portal, and the Catapult spool file distribution system–which it sells as the integrated Web Deployment Bundle. A new archive component, the Web Object Warehouse, or simply WOW, lets users search for and retrieve reports and other documents, while the new MyiSeriesGreenScreens portlet gives users secure Web-based access to third-party 5250 apps through Nexus.
WOW combines elements of BCD’s Catapult spool file engine and its Nexus portal to provide access to documents through a Web browser. The software can be configured to automatically grab a variety of documents, including those in PDF, HTML, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and plain-text formats, and store them in the OS/400 Integrated File System (IFS) for later retrieval. As documents are added to the WOW, the software automatically creates searchable indexes for the documents. Users also can manually enter documents into the WOW and create search keywords that will make the documents easier to retrieve later.
Invoices, purchase orders, and other business documents can be easily stored in WOW for later access, BCD officials say. “When Catapult distributes a billing report and creates search keywords, such as an invoice number or a company name,” says Duncan Kenzie, a lead developer of Nexus, “users can quickly find what they need by simply doing a customer-invoice number search in the WOW and processing that documents as they need, right from their browser.”
WOW is the latest in a string of low-cost, software-based archival products to hit the OS/400 market lately. Developers of document management software are finding that, instead of installing a separate, stand-alone archive that stores documents on an optical device, such as a CD drive, users want archive products that are pre-integrated with their spool file and document management systems.
The other new component for Nexus, MyiSeriesGreenScreens, provides Web-based access to 5250 applications running on an OS/400 server. The software uses Microsoft ActiveX objects, served from the Windows Web server, to deliver secure access to traditional green-screen applications. Users must have valid OS/400 user IDs and passwords to use the software, and communication between the client and the host can be encrypted, using SSL. BCD is offering the software for $400 per server, which supports an unlimited number of users on a server of any size.
BCD developed MyiSeriesGreenScreens because it recognized that the majority of users still access OS/400 applications through a 5250 interface, despite the recent gains with refacing older applications. While a company wouldn’t buy Nexus to run MyiSeriesGreenScreens (Nexus is a portal application that BCD built on top of its core WebSmart development and runtime technology), using MyiSeriesGreenScreens can help keep access points to a minimum for those companies running a mix of 5250- and Web-based or portal interfaces.
By linking WebSmart, Nexus, and Catapult so closely, BCD shows that it has a good understanding of how people use software and how they want to buy it. BCD recognizes that, instead of building or buying a program for generating dynamic Web content, a program for building internal Web portals, and one for capturing and distributing spool files, people want to buy one platform that supports all of these similar functions. The development of the WOW and MyiSeriesGreenScreens plays to this strength.
BCD has several bundles available to customers. The Web Deployment Bundle, which includes WebSmart, Nexus, and Catapult, goes for about $15,500 at the average OS/400 shop, or about 50 percent off list price, officials say. The Chicago company is also offering a Nexus-Catapult bundle that gives users a license for both products for just the cost of Catapult alone, which is about $4,500 on average, and the cost of maintenance for Nexus, or about $2,200. BCD is also continuing its offer to provide free Nexus licenses to the first 1,000 users for just the cost of maintenance. Nexus normally costs $12,000. For more information, go to www.bcdsoftware.com.