The firewall and security supervisor of a large government agency had a problem: he had thousands of users throughout his state accessing highly sensitive data using the Java-based IBM/Rational Host-On-Demand terminal emulator. Oracle Corporation was dropping support for using and distributing Java Applets using web browsers. Not only was the use of Java as implemented in the HOD product an ongoing security risk, it also represented increasingly complex installation procedures with the attendant support issues.
After months of investigating alternatives and extensive testing of Inventu Viewer+, the state agency purchased a 2,500 session Inventu Terminal Emulation Appliance. Inventu setup and configured three virtual servers on the appliance and delivered it to the customer in the Spring of 2017. Since then, it has run 24x7 with only one brief interruption caused by a data center power outage.
During the implementation, a number of requirements were identified by the agency and these requirements drove the implementation of some valuable extensions and enhancements. Many HOD installations share the same requirements and can benefit when implementing a new Inventu solution.
With HOD, while the installation and activation of the terminal emulator is typically integrated with a website, once a terminal emulation session is started, the client’s PC opens a direct TN3270 socket to the mainframe. This direct connection allows the mapping of a specific IP address to a Device ID / LU Name, which at the agency enabled restricting access to the more sensitive data in the State’s mainframe to specific IP addresses.
When moving to a web terminal emulator like Inventu Viewer+, this presented a challenge, since while UNIX Telnet sessions allow the FVTerm emulator to forward the client IP address at connection time, there is no similar functionality available in the IBM VTAM TN3270 Server.
Inventu solved the challenge using the New Session and Logging Extension along with some simple c# code to parse the existing file exported from the mainframe for mapping IP to Device name.
While device printing is not used at the agency, one very valuable ZipPrint IBM terminal emulator extension was used by many users to save both time and paper. ZipPrint provides support to recognize screens that have multiple pages of detailed information such that a ZipPrint screen print will start with the headers on the first page, then print detail lines, with pagination, to the end of the screen set.
Without ZipPrint, users need to print the first screen, then page down, print the next screen and so on. This creates many more printed pages due to the way a print screen only uses the top of the page. The solution from Inventu was to provide a new server-side macro named AutoPrint, which includes the same capabilities as ZipPrint. A user activates an AutoPrint using the Macros icon when on a screen that has been programmed with the administrator-maintained AutoPrint definitions file (plain ASCII text). The Inventu AutoPrint facility has been in use for over a year and has saved many, many pages of paper!
In 2019, Inventu added the new multi-screen print icons that enable any user to group multiple screens in a single print job, saving paper and keeping a user's print-screens together in a single print job.
The agency provides access for thousands of users that are involved in public safety and thus are active and need access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This meant that any updates or changes to the Inventu server needs to be made without disrupting service to the users.
The solution was to for Inventu to implement a new Hold status feature in the core emulation service. This was implemented with an HTTP GET status request that integrates with the customer’s load balancing solution so that individual servers can be taken offline for service. This has worked extremely well, with multiple upgrades to the Inventu software since start-up as well as regularly applying Windows Updates to the Windows Server 2016 instances running as Virtual Machines.
With decades of experience with implementations both large and small, we have developed a broad set of parsing, conversion and runtime tools to assist our customers in successful implementations.