The Web is a great place to do business. Right now, your com-pany is probably already using it for marketing or to publish information about your company and products. For these purposes, deployment can be as simple as setting up a Web server on a Unix or Windows NT box.
But what happens when your CEO wants to do other kinds of business on the Web, such as high-volume order processing or customer service.
A single Unix or NT server is not going to be enough to support your mission-critical Web applications.
You may already have a system that can, though.
If you're an IS manager at a large organisation, the chances are quite good that you're still running at least one mainframe. This "big iron" is probably handling essential line- of-business applications, such as your order-entry system, finance, accounting, payroll, and the like. And, with a little work, the mainframe can be a great Web application server, too.
Mainframes are born to process and store large volumes of data reliably, securely and quickly.
That's why, despite frequent proclamations that the mainframe is dead, many companies still extensively use their big iron. If you're getting into Internet commerce, you should take a good look at your mainframe as a possible Web application server.
Currently, there are two classes of products that can let you use your mainframe as a Web application server. The first group relies on a Unix or NT server to act as an intermediary between the Web and the mainframe, which continues to run the same applications it always has. The server translates terminal output into HTML, Java and ActiveX, and serves it to browser clients via the Web.
Two recently announced products in this class are Wall Data's Cyberprise suite of host-access tools and Attachmate's HostView Server 2.0.
The second class of products lets the mainframe itself act as a Web server.
Such an approach lets your Web applications take advantage of the mainframe's heavy-duty computing power and I/O capabilities.
Whichever route you choose, it's clear that big iron is far from dead. In fact, mainframes may just see a resurgence of popularity as Web commerce applications become more prevalent.