Cloud-Based Email Migrations Keep IBM i Vendor Busy
July 11, 2016 Dan Burger
As more businesses migrate email services from desktops to the cloud, users at IBM i shops look for the tools that allow them to work quickly, efficiently, and securely. You can’t stay mired in the past. You have to adapt. That’s what BVSTools has done with its latest enhancement of GreenTools, which integrate with Microsoft Office 365’s Outlook and Google‘s Gmail for Business, two popular business email options.
“We are noticing a lot of our current customers, when moving to the cloud for email, are choosing Microsoft Office 365 in greater numbers than those using Google’s Gmail for Business services,” says Brad Stone, owner of BVSTools, a vendor in the IBM midrange community for more than 20 years. The company, a one-man operation, has found success with its product called MAILTOOL, which was designed to send emails from the IBM i server using a command line or RPG program.
“Three years ago or so Gmail was preferred, but now I think more shops that are heavy Microsoft Office users are finally ditching their Exchange servers and going to the cloud. Their obvious choice is Office 365.”
GreenTools for Google Apps and GreenTools for Microsoft Apps allow users to interact with Google and Microsoft Apps/APIs using commands and/or ILE subprocedures from their IBM i on Power Systems environments.
Stone says the new functions allow MAILTOOL users to send cloud-based email using OAuth 2.0. MAILTOOL enhancements also include a convenient command interface for sending emails from IBM i servers. The command interface also simplifies the transition process for current MAILTOOL customers.
BVS adopted OAuth 2.0 with the 2013 launch of the GreenTools for Google Apps, which connect IBM i data with Google Apps, including Google’s Drive, Cloud Print, Contacts, and Calendar apps. Shortly thereafter, BVS added OAuth 2.0 support for Microsoft Apps. In this case, Microsoft’s APIs were used to upload IBM i-resident data to Microsoft OneDrive.
Recently, Microsoft deprecated some of its older “live” APIs and started rolling out new Office 365 APIs. This means the normal SMTP server functionality being used to send emails using OAuth 2.0 won’t be around much longer. Microsoft is also rolling all of its previous Outlook, OneDrive and other functionality into the Office 365 APIs.
“We also have ways to integrate these functions with our MAILTOOL product so that users can send email using OAuth 2.0,” Stone says. “This means better security as you don’t need to store user IDs and passwords on the system.”
Although setting up OAuth 2.0 for each user is required, Stone describes it as a very simple process initiated from the IBM i green screen. A demo of this process can be seen here.
After the service is registered for a user, all the OAuth 2.0 token requests and validation functionality is handled behind the scenes.
“We are very fortunate to have customers that are willing to work with us when creating these new features to make sure they work as expected,” Stone says. “And we’re happy to be on the forefront of the IBM i technology offerings with features like OAuth 2.0 functionality. That’s something you won’t find with other third-party email clients or even those built into the operating system.”
Stone has also designed software for spooled file document archival and distribution and Web service communication and custom sockets projects, which are part of the BVSTools product lineup.