NetManage Cuts Complexity and Cost of iSeries Product
December 6, 2005 Alex Woodie
In a bid to get more AS/400 shops involved in application modernization, NetManage has simplified the way it packages OnWeb for iSeries, a middleware product that reformats 5250 screens and applications into GUIs or Web services that can be accessed over the Internet. The company has also slashed the starting price from approximately $20,000 to about $6,000, and moved the suite’s server component to the iSeries’ PASE environment, eliminating the need for an additional server.
While NetManage previously offered the server component for OnWeb for iSeries on Unix, Lintel, and Windows platforms, most customers ran it on Windows servers, says Andrew Smith, the senior product manager for NetManage’s OnWeb for iSeries offering. This contributed to the Windows server sprawl problem at some of NetManage’s customers.
One of these customers expressed his concern during a recent customer visit by Smith. “He was concerned that with every new solution he buys, it results in another server. They’ve gone from 25 servers to 63 servers in a year,” Smith says. “It makes sense to move this to the iSeries. If you’re going down the Windows route, you have to deal with load balancing, disaster recovery, etc. Our view is, if it’s on the iSeries and the iSeries is down, you have bigger problems to worry about.”
Besides the capability to keep most (but not all) of the components of OnWeb for iSeries on what NetManage customers view as their most secure and stable platform, NetManage has made changes in the pricing and packaging.
With version 1.3 of OnWeb for iSeries, which was announced yesterday, there is now one product that contains all of the components that customers need. This includes the OnWeb server, the Web to host (Java or ActiveX) objects, development tools, client licenses, a single copy of the RUMBA emulator (for setup purposes), an FTP utility, and the OnWeb management server (which integrates with LDAP servers for authentication and which at this point is only available on Windows, but which might be brought to the iSeries in 2006, officials say).
Previously, users had to order, buy, and install these pieces separately. Now there’s just one SKU to order, and one CD to install. “We made it easier for them to mix and match how they chose, and put it all under one umbrella,” says Jim Raisio, director of product marketing for the Cupertino, California, company.
Customers also benefit from dramatically reduced pricing with this release. Previously, NetManage would have charged $12,000 just for the Windows version of the OnWeb server ($15,000 for the Unix version), $4,800 for processor-based client licenses, plus another $2,500 for the development tools. This added up to starting prices of $19,300 on Windows, or $22,300 for Unix.
With OnWeb for iSeries 1.3, NetManage has moved to processor-based pricing with unlimited seats. A license for OnWeb for iSeries at the P05 tier costs $6,000, while the P10 tier costs $8,500. This is all part of NetManage’s attempt to “make it easy to install and use and to minimize support,” Raisio says. (Cupertino must not have gotten the memo that the way to reap huge profits in IT these days is to find a way to jack up the services costs. Their loss is your gain.)
NetManage hopes these moves will spur OS/400 shops that are modernizing their IT environments to take a second look at OnWeb for iSeries, which really provides two types of functionality. On one side, it offers the fairly basic capability to display a terminal session through a Web browser, using the customers’ choice of Microsoft ActiveX or Java applet technology. These “mini-emulators,” as Raisio calls them, can duplicate what customers have grown used to in RUMBA, the popular terminal emulator used by about 10,000 OS/400 and mainframe shops (those are individual customers–the RUMBA seat count is still around 30 million, NetManage tells us).
The other side of OnWeb is about Web services and service oriented architectures (SOA). OnWeb can capture business processes expressed in 5250 and 3270 data streams, and re-package them in the user’s choice of wrapper, including Enterprise JavaBeans, .NET assemblies, or JSR 168 objects for integration in a portal. It also works with NetManage’s Librados adapters for connecting to specific ERP systems and database management systems.
While the IT world has been inundated with talk about SOA and Web services for the last couple of years, the reality is that very few customers are actually doing it. At least on the OS/400 platform, Smith says. “A lot have dabbled” in SOA, he says. “It’s almost relearning and having to go back and revisit what they already know. People were scared off by the initial attempt.”
Raisio has an idea why this is the case in the OS/400 community. “Small shops don’t develop stuff, they use stuff,” he says. “They can’t and just don’t want to move rapidly. They want to dabble in it, as far as we can tell.”