Tuesday, April 10, 2012

uLinga? Moving into the straight!

A new win for uLinga sees the successful leverage of new member within the uLinga product family – uLinga for EE …

When so much is covered in all discussions about modernization, and then about how quickly IT departments tackle data and message integration in order for end-users to become more innovative, it’s still surprising just how slow it has been to migrate to modern networks. Protocols and services do exist that make the migration easier, but changes to networks and to the middleware installed to support network connectivity, are giving IT managers cause for concerns. Could the risks ever be worth it? Could there be partners capable of helping companies through the migration? And, most importantly, are there other companies that are already pursuing network modernizations?

In the post of December 6th, 2011, “uLinga! Turning the corner?” I quoted InfraSoft Managing Director, Peter Shell, as he acknowledged that, as a company, “we hope to be able to talk more about these enhancements and product ideas shortly but we are truly excited by the response to date and with how quickly users are going into production with uLinga." Well, the time has come to write about the enhancement and product ideas more fully, as a new customer this quarter elected to deploy the newest member of the uLinga family – the uLinga for Enterprise Extender (EE). A very large European auto manufacturer, with a global reach, has now licensed uLinga for EE from comForte, the global sales partner of Infrasoft, and this auto manufacturer has begun deploying uLinga for EE in their production environment.

With EE support, uLinga supports the latest networking protocol developed by IBM that better assists those companies wanting to leverage production networks built on top of IP. While DLSw always represented an appropriate first step along the path of network modernization, there was still just the smallest element of SNA protocol remaining – between the communications stack in the server, and the tunneling stack that is DLSw. But this very small element was enough to blind any IP network management tools from visibility to the applications. High Performance Routing / IP (HPR/IP) on the other hand replaces much of the traditional lower layers of SNA and in so doing, depending on the number of paths configured and the presence of redundant routers, can provide fault tolerance within the network.

“Previous wins with uLinga had mainly focused on the feature DLSw where customers had elected to capitalize on its capabilities for both client devices networked via TCP/IP as well as for server connectivity via TCP/IP – in these situations, the application on NonStop as well as those running on adjacent servers and indeed the client devices themselves, remained SNA and had no knowledge of the presence of any other network apart from SNA. The change of the network to TCP/IP occurred transparently,” Shell informed me. “And now, with this most recent win, the uLinga feature chosen has been EE – the latest iteration of SNA by IBM that supports SNA applications communicating to other SNA applications using UDP/IP as the transport mechanism. With this protocol supported at both ends, it allows these SNA services to participate in existing IP backbone networks without requiring any additional router support.”

“The customer was able to replace ICE HPR/IP and was able to install uLinga for EE with absolutely no changes required apart from the uLinga configuration,” Shell added . “The customer then configured uLinga for EE (with minimal help from Infrasoft) and had the application up and running, straight out of the box with only a few configuration tweaks required. The customer also reported that his IBM Mainframe counterpart was astonished about ‘how smooth it worked - he really had to change nothing!’" The indications are positive that this deployment by the European auto manufacturer will soon be joined by other companies in the coming weeks.

“In providing a better balance between the value that comes from a product’s capabilities and the price that must be paid,” remarked comForte’s CEO, Dr. Michael Rossbach,” is an important aspect in uLinga becoming as successful as it has in such a short timeframe. “Significant cost savings that can come from taking a new look at middleware choices and sometimes,” Rossbach said, “electing to clean house when there may not be clear alternatives, especially when a solution only appears to be available from one vendor, can lead to checking more fully what is in the marketplace.”

This is perhaps the most important message of all – cleaning house is always good. Pursuing modernization plans continue to hold merit and the returns that come with reducing the amount of resources committed to the maintenance of legacy networks are significant. Today, there is a solution that will help with modernizing networks; there is a partner that companies can turn to for assistance and consultation; and perhaps even more importantly, the list of companies taking the additional steps with uLinga continues to grow – confidence in the solution and the people behind it is now visible.

Taking the steps do count and rounding any turn is a significant milestone. But as any driver can attest, there’s nothing like moving into the straight with the finish line in sight. There’s still much more involved with modernization and many companies have come to appreciate the work that still has to be done – but for now, the risks associated with modernizing the network have been reduced considerably. And with that, IT departments can return to their spring cleaning and move to address other pressing needs.

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