Linoma Bolsters MFT Product with Clustering, Load Balancing
January 15, 2013 Alex Woodie
Linoma Software has rolled out a new release of its managed file transfer (MFT) software that supports clustering across two or more MFT servers. GoAnywhere Services version 3.1 implements an “active-active” cluster that improves resiliency of MFT activities, while a new load balancing feature promises to give customers better performance when using multiple MFT servers with a gateway. In other news, Linoma is working on a new Android app expected next month.
Developing a cluster-capable version of Linoma’s MFT product was a high priority, according to Bob Luebbe, chief architect of the Ashland, Nebraska, company. “We had lost a couple of deals to big MFT packages because we didn’t have it, so it was something we definitely needed,” he says. “It moves our whole product to the next level.”
Linoma worked to make clustering in GoAnywhere Services simple and easy to use. Clustering is built into the software, so that if one of the nodes goes down, the other node or nodes automatically pick up the workload; there is no need to execute a failover manually. The MFT servers must be configured similarly in terms of setting, trading partner accounts, and security policies. They also need to be on the same network so they can communicate status information. The clusters can be managed remotely using a Web-based interface, and all activity is logged for auditing.
Part and parcel of clustering support is the new load balancing feature in GoAnywhere Services version 3.1. To use load balancing, a customer must have a network gateway device sitting in the DMZ, in front of the MFT servers. Linoma recommends that customers use Linoma’s GoAnywhere Gateway to load balance a cluster of GoAnywhere Services servers.
GoAnywhere Gateway has the advantage of supporting a reverse proxy feature that boosts security by eliminating the need to open inbound ports in firewalls. Linoma also updated GoAnywhere Gateway in December with the new load balancing capabilities released in version 2.0.
“We highly recommend using GoAnywhere Gateway,” Luebbe says. “You can use your own load balancer. But a lot of the other load balancers out there don’t have reverse proxy-type services built in, so you would have to open up internal ports to support them into internal networks. I think we’re at a distinct advantage with GoAnywhere Gateway in that regard. Plus I think customers would be more comfortable dealing with a single vendor.”
The new clustering capabilities are aimed more at eliminating downtime due to hardware failures, not so much at protecting against natural disasters. Luebbe says it’s possible to implement a cluster with nodes in separate regions of the country, but it would require a more complex configuration. “You could theoretically put them in two different locations, but then you have to make sure your firewall is opened up so they can communicate together. There are certain ports that must be open for communication.”
Opening these firewall ports wouldn’t necessarily endanger security, provided they’re on a private network, he adds. “It’s not so much a security concern, as much as a configuration concern. There are more things to deal with configuration-wise.”
The one-two punch of GoAnywhere Services 3.1 and GoAnywhere Gateway 2.0 will put Linoma in the game when clustering and load balancing are part of the RFP. “There are some high end MFT products–not necessarily on iSeries but on Unix and mainframe–where you can get clustering for $100,000 or more. We try to make it affordable. In some cases, less than $5,000 can get you into a clustered environment. We’re going more after the mid market with this clustering solution.”
The folks in Linoma’s development department have been hard at work these days. In the near future, the company will roll out a new Android app for the GoAnywhere suite that allows users to download and upload documents from a server securely from their smartphone or tablet.
The new Android app “will let you share business docs back and forth between other Android phones and tablets or your server,” Luebbe says. “Let’s say you have some reports sitting on your iSeries that you need access to securely. With your Android app, you’ll be able to connect up to iSeries through an encrypted channel, and actually go out and retrieve those documents and view them on your phone or tablet and vice versa. We’ll have it available in about a month. We got it working, and now we’re just testing it.”
Linoma’s GoAnywhere products (including GoAnywhere Services, GoAnywhere Director, and GoAnywhere Gateway) run natively on a number of platforms, including IBM i, Unix, Windows, Linux, and Linux for z/OS. The products support an array of protocols (FTP, FTPS, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP); support encryption capabilities; queues jobs for execution on servers; and keep an audit trail of all activities. GoAnywhere Director is the most feature-rich product, and offers some additional capabilities not found in GoAnywhere Services, including support for PGP and AES encryption, file conversion capabilities, and the capability to do direct database connections.