TPS Delivers IBM i Version of MFT Solution
February 15, 2011 Alex Woodie
TPS Systems this month delivered an IBM i client for TPS/NetWork File Manager, a managed file transfer (MFT) product that’s based on a proprietary communications protocol. The Texas company, which got its start writing utilities for the old IBM Series/1 minicomputer, developed an IBM i client for NetWork File Manager to satisfy demand from its customers to support the Power Systems environment.
TPS/NetWork File Manager (NFM) is a client-server MFT solution designed to give users more control over file transfer activities than they would have using standard FTP programs. The software offers common MFT features such as scheduling, auditing, reporting, encryption, compression, automated file discovery, and remote program execution.
But according to TPS, its use of a proprietary communication mechanism, called the NFM Client-to-Client Protocol, gives the product extra capabilities not found in standard FTP, such as check-point restart, bandwidth management and optimization, file trickle/streaming, IP multi-casting, and remote program execution.
NFM can be found managing file transfer activities among some less common operating systems, such as IBM 4690 and Stratus Technologies VOS, in addition to z/OS, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, Linux, Windows, and now the IBM i OS. All of these platforms are supported with the NFM Client, which enables peer-to-peer communication. The NFM Server component, which installs on AIX, Linux, and Windows servers, is used to store configuration settings and stores data for auditing purposes, but does not serve as a file repository, as all files are moved on a peer-to-peer basis.
Customers get started with NFM by defining their file transfer activities and creating conditional logic using the product’s transmission plan builder. This builder enables the product to kick off scripts upon completion of a transfer, or send a notification message to an e-mail address. The software runs over both SNA and standard TCP/IP network protocols. Customers can also license an optional FTP component that lets them communicate with customers and trading partners using standard FTP protocols, including FTPS.
IBM i customers will interact with NFM through a Web-browser-based interface, which is used to configure and monitor file transfer activities. The NFM Client for IBM i can be installed as either a native IBM i program or as an AIX program running in PASE, according to TPS. A command line interface is also available on other platforms for event-driven file transfers. The software can also interact with third-party job schedulers, and hooks into directory services.
TPS plans to add support for file synchronization with the upcoming release of NFM version 2.5.1. This will further automate the task of updating files and directories when changes occur in the source files and directories of its customers’ networks, the company says.
TPS, which was founded about 30 years ago and is based in San Antonio, started out writing utilities for the IBM Series/1, an early cousin of the AS/400 minicomputer and S/390 mainframe that used the same EBCDIC character set and was introduced in the early 1970s. When the Series/1 was discontinued, the company switched to writing networking products for IBM’s proprietary Systems Network Architecture (SNA) network protocol. Those networking products were used in early AS/400 environments.
While TPS still offers legacy solutions, today it’s focused on networking utilities like NFM, the Web-based WebFM, and the NetWork Transaction Monitor (NTM) that work across different platforms and network topologies. Currently, NFM is the only product that customers have asked it to support on the IBM i platform.
Pricing for NFM is based on the configuration and options. A large installation supporting 200 stores with the z/OS and 4690 options would cost about $85,000, the company says. For more information, see the company’s website at www.tps.com.