An IBM i Client for Every Administrative Occasion
July 8, 2014 Alex Woodie
Anybody remember OpsNav? The Windows-based client from IBM seemed to provide every function a system administrator could ask for. Well, we’ve come a long way since 1999, and today’s administrators have a new crop of needs, which are served by a veritable army of IBM i clients from IBM.
Tim Rowe, IBM’s business architect for application development, provided an excellent rundown of the various IBM i client options available in a recent article published at System i Developer, where Rowe’s regular column landed after iPro Developer folded up its tent.
There are no fewer than five IBM i clients available from IBM. This includes iAccess Client Solutions, iAccess for Windows, iAccess for Web, iAccess for Linux, and IBM i Navigator.
Rowe writes: “Some of these are installed on an IBM i partition (iAccess for Web and IBM i Navigator), some deployed on a PC (iAccess Client Solutions, iAccess for Windows, and iAccess for Linux) and all can be used to access and manage multiple releases of IBM i.”
The newest and best strategic solution from IBM is iAccess Client Solution, or ACS. This Java-based offering runs anywhere a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) can be deployed. That means it will run on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs; IBM i or AIX servers; or Windows or Android mobile devices. You might even be able to get ACS running on an iOS device, although Java is not fully supported by Apple.
“ACS is your solution for all your 5250 emulations needs,” Rowe writes. “It provides your normal 5250 emulator. It also provides full capability to connect to either a 5250 configured LAN or HMC console. In addition, we have included the data transfer capability and a spool file interface. This new product is a replacement for many of the key features that were traditionally delivered through the iAccess for Windows product.”
IBM also provides additional installed components for ACS via the Windows Application Package and Linux Application Packages. “These packages contain the various connection drivers (.NET, ODBC, etc),” Rowe writes. “Updates to these drivers will only be delivered in the ACS products in the future.”
Next up is iAccess for Windows. While it sports a fresh new name, this is an old product that traces its roots back to OpsNav (Operations Navigator). “While we are aware this product continues to be widely used, it’s not something that can go on forever,” Rowe writes.
While iAccess for Windows version 7.1 works with all supported versions of IBM i (and some older non-supported ones) and is still supported by IBM, the company plans to “stabilize” the product without updates. In other words, get yourself to the strategic ACS offering ASAP, especially as new versions of Windows comes out because iAccess for Windows won’t work with those.
Likewise, iAccess for Linux is an older product that IBM isn’t planning on updating. Users of this product should migrate to the ACS package and specifically the Linux Application Package if a Linux ODBC driver is needed.
The iAccess for Web package is another old product deceptively cloaked in a new-ish sounding name. But while the iAccess for Linux and Windows products are being sent out to pasture, IBM is actively enhancing the iAccess for Web offering with mobile functionality. With version 7.2, IBM has added a new “mobile perspective” that allows the software to run on Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices.
Finally, we have IBM i Navigator, a Web-based offering that IBM introduced in 2010 with IBM i 6.1. IBM has continued to enhance this management interface over the years, Rowe writes, and in 2013 embarked on an effort to re-imagine the offering with a more modern HTML look and feel. “What we have today resembles little of the slow and cumbersome interface of a few years ago,” he writes.
So to recap, the products with bright futures include: ACS, the Java-based strategic offering that’s getting all the best stuff; iAccess for Web, which has been remade as a stripped down management interface for mobile device; and IBM i Navigator, which today sports a slick HTML interface. The products with dim futures include iAccess for Windows and Linux, which are being replaced by the ACS products.
To read Rowe’s informative article in its entirety, see www.systemideveloper.com/blogs/?q=node/18.