IBM HOD 4.0 Gets Security Boost

From the standpoint of new functionality, Version 4.0 of IBM Corp.'s SecureWay Host-On-Demand (HOD) does not represent a leap ahead for host access. However, current HOD customers and others who wish to bolster security and manageability will want to evaluate this release.

IBM has added the term SecureWay to the HOD brand name to denote a new emphasis on strengthening secure access to enterprise systems. Key in this release is the addition of X.509 client certificate authentication via Secure Sockets Layer. From a cost perspective, HOD compares favorably to competing host access solutions, such as WRQ's Reflection EnterView and OpenConnect's OC://WebConnect Pro. (See our Product Reviews of OC://WebConnect Pro, Sept. 13, and Reflection EnterView, www.infoworld.com/printlinks.)IBM supports the types of emulation access one would expect, such as 3270 and 5250. However, some other solutions offer a greater number of access choices, including emulation for Hewlett-Packard servers. IBM could add greater value to HOD by enabling additional emulation types.

Those concerned with integrating HOD into an existing environment will find the product an easy fit. Customers can deploy HOD on several server types, including Solaris, Windows NT, Linux, and OS/400.

Likewise, end-users need be outfitted with only a Java-capable browser and the appropriate security permissions to begin using HOD. The product boasts broad platform support, a claim that cannot be made by rival Esker's Esker PLUS which is limited to the Windows platform.

In this version of HOD, deployment and administration have been centralized which negates the need to load software on client machines. I found the server setup and client interfaces easy to work with.

During my tests, I installed HOD from scratch on several different server platforms and migrated to Version 4.0 from the earlier Versions 2.0 and 3.0. In all cases, I had no trouble. Likewise, I accessed various host systems via a variety of client platforms without incident.

I did note occasional sluggishness in HOD's Java-based interfaces. However, the performance of this version is vastly improved over that of previous HOD releases.

IBM has added support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol integration in this HOD release, as has Esker with its PLUS. I found IBM and Esker evenly matched in this area.

Sites that use HOD on the AS/400 or that are considering this platform for HOD deployment will find the going much easier with Version 4.0. For example, installation now requires only a single command.

End-users will like some feature additions in this release, including the 5250 file-transfer and host-printing capabilities. I found it a simple affair to transfer files from my Linux desktop to my AS/400's Integrated File System.

Administrators will find improved session identification and support for Service Location Protocol. The latter supports dynamic Telnet server location, as well as load balancing. The product also includes more robust customization options. IBM supplies both ActiveX and Java host-access APIs.

Current HOD sites seeking added security and manageability will want to consider this release. Likewise for new installations, HOD Version 4.0 offers a solid host-access solution that fits easily into many computing environments.

(Senior Analyst Maggie Biggs (maggie_biggs@infoworld.com) is the acting section editor for Enterprise Computing.)THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOODIBM SecureWay Host-On-Demand 4.0Summary: IBM's SecureWay Host-on-Demand offers a secure and manageable host-access solution.

Business Case: Those choosing Host-On-Demand will find they can reduce expenses, thanks to its centralized deployment and administration facilities.

Pros:

+ Offers Lightweight Directory Access Protocol integration+ Supports secure sessions+ Centralized managementCons:

- Limited emulation types supported

- Some Java interfaces are sporadically sluggishCost: US$199 per concurrent user; $129 to upgradePlatform(s): Server: Windows NT, AIX, OS/2, Linux, NetWare, Solaris, OS/400, HP-UX, OS/390; Client: Any Java-capable browser

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