Cisco Systems is offering new low-priced software for SNA users who need quick, easy Internet access to 3270 applications on the mainframe.
The company next week is expected to announce and deliver WebClient, an entry-level, Java tn3270e client software package. Cisco claims WebClient is for use on Intranets and for establishing simple communications between companies that don't need data encryption. The software will let users access the mainframe without having to go through an intermediary Web server, which is typically required for Web-to-host sessions.
WebClient software is downloaded from Cisco's Web site to any desktop equipped with a Microsoft Explorer or Netscape Navigator browser, and can establish sessions with multiple hosts. Once a user opens the WebClient application on his desktop, a Java applet is launched, which traverses the 'Net and establishes a session with a designated SNA mainframe.
After the host authenticates the user and establishes a session, users can access 3270 data and cut and paste it into other applications. WebClient will run over any tn3270 gateway device, including Cisco's Channel Interface Processor, which links the company's Series 7000 and 7500 routers directly to mainframes.
"Other vendors aren't paying attention to this entry-level market," says Lori Bush, product line manager for Web-to-host products at Cisco's Interworks business unit. Most SNA access customers are buying more function than they need in their Web emulation packages.
Cisco hopes WebClient will tap a growing market for Web-to-host software, says Cindy Borovick, an analyst with International Data Corp. (IDC). IDC estimates that the 1998 Web-terminal emulation market was worth $60 million, and Borovick predicts that number will grow to about $1 billion by 2002.
WebClient will complement Cisco's more expensive OC//:WebConnect Pro Web-to-host offering, which has more features.