Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Access to HP NonStop on the Go: J6530Touch

From: Rene Modde, Product Manager comForte J products

I am sitting on the train. An episode of Star Trek is running on my iPad: the 21st century meets the fictive 24th century. Just like I am holding my iPad, Captain Jean-Luc Picard holds his PADD (personal access display device) as he processes information about events in a far-off galaxy. Just as I, he controls his device with only a few touch gestures. And still, there is a fundamental difference: in the age of Star Trek, it goes without saying that mobile devices are being used to deal with daily, and critical, tasks. In contrast, my main usage of the iPad—just like 90% of iPad users—is still for entertainment and personal use, surfing the Internet, streaming pictures and videos, reading books, sending private emails, and so on. It makes me wonder about the broader possibilities…

According to a study by Gartner, the percentage of tablets used in companies is rising. Leaders in more and more organizations are evaluating how iPads and other tablets can be used in their businesses.


It is not a question of replacing existing desktops, but rather a move to increase mobility and flexibility adding these mobile devices to the mix. Gartner forecasts an increased adoption of mobile devices in companies as part of their ’10 Key Trends in IT until 2017’. In addition, cloud computing offers a number of possibilities as remote systems get access to a vast repository of data and applications.


In this context, it’s time to take a closer look at accessing server systems like HP NonStop using mobile devices. comForte’s mission is to provide our customers with software solutions that allow for secure, easy-to-manage, and cost-effective access to HP NonStop systems. One of the key challenges here is to recognise technology trends and to adapt our solutions to an evolving business world.


Firewall-friendly access to NonStop systems—even from mobile devices like tablets, ideally without any installation on the devices—is the task I am currently focusing on. At first sight, that’s an ideal challenge for our Java-based terminal emulators, J6530 and JPath. A closer look at the world of tablets was rather sobering, however. “Write once, run everywhere” was a slogan that helped to strengthen Java in the 90s. This slogan does not apply today, and one wonders if it was ever a valid statement. The iPad, the most popular tablet, does not support Java. Java Swing does not run on Android. Every Android release requires some changes to the source code. Add to that the cumbersome distribution channels via the app stores of the tablet manufacturers. Not a good starting point for a smaller software company like comForte to bank on native code for tablets.


Consequently, we decided for a mix of technologies. We developed the GUI with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, and implemented our proven J6530 terminal emulator in a middle tier. Why HTML5? The answer is very easy: HTML5 is the future and all requirements mentioned above are met. HTML5 runs on all PCs, in all modern Web browsers, and on all Web-enabled tablets. Many of the features in HTML5 today are stable and can be used almost everywhere without using any browser plugins. Additional features like Web socket implementations will follow. Many reasons for HTML5 can be found on the Internet, for example at the following url:


http://blog.goyello.com/2012/02/06/html5-javascript-write-once-run-anywhere/.


One disadvantage though is that the HTTP protocol, which is used to transport HTML code, belongs to the class of so-called stateless protocols. The server can only respond to requests from the client. Updates in the terminal will only be made available after a client request. However, modern browsers and hardware can compensate for this by constantly polling data from the server.


Terminal emulators are relics from the early days of communication between PCs and host systems. Now, this relic can be used alongside the most modern technology, the tablet. The question is how much of a terminal emulator is required on the tablet in order to be able to communicate with HP NonStop servers, and to enable this communication to happen in a way that works without an external keyboard and mouse, and that isn’t frustrating but is as much fun as working with a typical tablet application. That’s the challenge we are facing up to and we are asking for your opinion. Email us with your ideas and suggestions at:


j6530demo@comforte.com.

First, is this of interest? The first response to the release of an early beta version was very positive and surprised us a little. More than 230 visitors with over 1,200 visits to our demo site during the first few days prove there’s some significant interest. Surely, our customers are in the process of adapting their IT strategies. Smart phones and other mobile devices are already an important part of anyone’s IT strategy and corporate communication, and we are ready to help. The first release of J6530Touch will be available later this year.


Captain Picard hands his PADD with the new mission targets to his Science Officer, the Android named “Data”. Data flicks the PADD forward, and, triggered by his words “Make it so”, the U.S.S. Enterprise starts to move with Warp 4 speed to explore new worlds and far away galaxies. Clearly, touch and voice control are the new challenges. Well then: computer! TACL! Start SWAP Proxy, server listen on…



I
’ve arrived at my train station, so for now, it’s time to pause the movie and sign off.

Live long and prosper.



J
ust to give you an idea of how easy it is to access HP NonStop from your iPad or any modern Browser, click here to get an immediate view of VIEWSYS running on our HP NonStop Blade system or here to get a full view of our alpha release of J6530Touch.

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