Error 404--Not Found

Error 404--Not Found

From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.

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Error 404--Not Found

Error 404--Not Found

From RFC 2068 Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1:

10.4.5 404 Not Found

The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI. No indication is given of whether the condition is temporary or permanent.

If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 403 (Forbidden) can be used instead. The 410 (Gone) status code SHOULD be used if the server knows, through some internally configurable mechanism, that an old resource is permanently unavailable and has no forwarding address.








News

Legacy Lessons
Here's a look at how three companies have handled the need to give employees, business partners and customer browser access to legacy data.

By Beth Schultz and Peggy Watt
IntraNet, 10/98

Alaska DMV goes online

Administration picks distributed-object technology for bridging DMV Web server and mainframe. The Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles is warming the hearts of residents with a Web site from which they can renew their car registrations and select, order and pay for vanity plates.

Previously, vehicle owners typically blocked out two hours for heading to the local DMV. The waits were so bad that the governor made fixing the long DMV lines a campaign promise. The mail-in cycle, taking from six to eight weeks, wasn't much better.

"Nobody had touched this division in 25 years. It was still doing things in the most costly, time-consuming ways," says Mark Boyer, chief information officer in the state administration department.

With Boyer's lobbying, the state legislature moved control of the DMV from the public safety department to administration. Once DMV fell under his purview, Boyer began searching for middleware he could use to integrate the Web site with the mainframe-based relational database used for DMV processes.

Boyer picked Software AG America's iExpress software, which is now bundled with the company's EntireX component middleware. EntireX, using message brokering and Microsoft's Distributed Component Object Model protocol, builds a bridge between the DMV's Windows NT Web server and the IBM MVS mainframe.

Since mid-January, the DMV has handled 10,000 Web transactions and drawn about four times as many hits on its Web site, Boyer says. He expects traffic to increase substantially with a fall advertising campaign, the first for this project.

Already, the DMV is counting its savings. The price of a face-to-face renewal costs $7.75. Taking into account the hardware, software and people's time, the cost of an online renewal is only $0.91.

Canadian insurer NN Financial hopes to secure its future by giving brokers browser access to mainframe-resident customer records.

Until this project, the 5,000 independent brokers dealing with NN Financial products were a step removed from customer data. If brokers needed client information, they headed to the nearest of the firm's 80 agency offices.

Cutting out the middleman will make it a whole lot easier for brokers to do business with NN Financial, says Jeremy Hope, senior network communications analyst at the Toronto firm. But bringing all those brokers directly onto NN Financial's frame relay WAN would have been far too costly. The Internet provided an attractive alternative.

In the first part of a three-phase strategy, NN Financial gave brokers copies of Netscape's Navigator 4.04 browser with IBM's Host On-Demand 2.03 software. Host On-Demand, a Secure Sockets Layer-secured Java applet, delivers brokers a standard 3270 to view and, to some degree, update client data. From the site, brokers also can check the status of commissions.

NN Financial chose Host On-Demand because it already used an IBM mainframe and a Lotus Domino Web server.

The Host On-Demand server software sits on top of the Domino Web server, which the firm uses exclusively for this project - extranet traffic does not mingle with intranet traffic. Log-ons determine which client data a broker can access; the legacy system handles security.

Since February, the company has given the Web software to about 300 brokers. Soon it will deploy the application to about 50 brokers per month, eventually Webifying its 3,500 most active brokers, Hope says.

At this stage, brokers can view only a client's life insurance information. In Phase 2, set to begin in March 1999, brokers will be able to view a client's entire portfolio.

To enable this, NN Financial must move legacy data from the mainframe to a more flexible database. It won't migrate the data, but instead will use IBM's MQSeries to move it between the mainframe and a separate Oracle database, Hope says.

"We'll really end up with two data repositories, and we'll provide real-time updates between them," Hope notes. "More and more, the mainframe system is becoming like a file server at the back end."

The brokers will add an Oracle applet to their browsers in order to gain Web access to client portfolios. Hope expects the brokers using Host On-Demand will take this option, bringing the Web applications further into their firms. Individual brokers will pick whatever application best suits their needs - a quick look at a client address is fine through the 3270 screen while a more comprehensive view of a client portfolio calls for the Oracle application.

Ultimately, NN Financial plans to offer brokers a distributed database they can use to actually run their businesses. Brokers would install the database software locally and use it to house NN Financial-related information and any other client data.

"These are fully independent brokers, but obviously the easier we make it for them, the more business they might do with us," Hope says. "Others are going the same route, but most don't allow multiple company data yet."

NN Financial probably will build a virtual private network to provide the connectivity for this phase, due to start by the end of 1999. Relevant client data would be downloaded from NN Financial's master database to a broker's local database. And when a broker changes a client's portfolio locally, those updates would be replicated to NN Financial's host database.

When all is finished, brokers will have multiple Web-based solutions, Hope says. Which one they take advantage of will depend entirely on them.

Any golf aficionado will tell you there's no greater pleasure than stepping out onto a closely cropped green the shade of an Emerald and looking out over a perfectly landscaped fairway - short of sinking a hole in one, of course.

So whether you're at the top of your game or still figuring out how to keep your TopFlite out of the sand traps and roughs, The Toro Co. wants to make sure you're seeing visions of loveliness. Believe it or not, Web-to-legacy integration plays into the company's mission.

Toro, in Bloomington, Minn., has been in the business of providing outdoor landscape products for more than eight decades. For the past two years, Toro has given customers access to legacy data via their Web browsers.

Toro's Internet plan dates to May 1996, when it acquired a systems integration and help desk firm targeted at the golf course market. That company, Integration Control Systems and Services (ICSS), actually began using the Internet to provide its services in 1988 - a decade ago in real time but eons ago when it comes to the Internet.

The systems integration firm, which supported computer-controlled golf course irrigation systems, was looking for a way to reduce onsite visits. "Golf course management is a very intense, no downtime, no hassles kind of business. We were looking for a way to diagnose problems really fast, archive the problem resolutions in a knowledge base and minimize the downtime for customers," says Cindi Love, who owned ICSS and is now director of customer service systems at Toro.

Love was familiar with the Internet because she also had a stake in New Mexico Information Systems, which published rules and regulations on the Internet-based TechNet. She decided ICSS could take advantage of the Internet, too.

"At the time, we didn't realize it was that unique - I would have put our engineers in swivel chairs if that meant they got out of their seats less," Love says. "It was more a matter of finding the best way to deliver a service, and I was fortunate to have been exposed to Internet technology early on."

Over the next eight years, ICSS brought about 4,500 golf courses online. Toro, with whom ICSS had a close relationship because of its golf course management equipment, took notice. Toro's goal in buying ICSS was not only to grow that existing business but also to launch similar efforts for its other product lines.

Six months after the acquisition, Love and her team launched the company's first extranet - Toro Electronic Community. Through the site, the 7,000 dealers of Toro's home lawn care products have access to the electronics parts catalogs and order entry system, the service training manual, a store design module and ad planner software. To date, more than 1,200 dealers have registered on the site, Love says.

Since launching the dealer site, the team has brought up extranet sites for the 21,000 golf course superintendents using Toro products worldwide and its 150 master distributors. Sites are in the works for the 75,000 landscape contractors that use the company's equipment, and for service managers and contractors.

From these extranet sites, the respective Toro customers will have access to a range of functions, including order entry, product registration, invoicing, warranty claims and responses, and sales and inventory information. "Basically, everything we do on the front end with our customers is going to be running across an extranet and linking into our legacy system or SAP," Love says.

Toro is migrating customer front-end applications from its mainframe, which it wants to shut down in December, to a Web-enabled SAP R/3 system. The combined demand of mainframe connectivity and SAP integration made finding the right application development tool a challenge.

But Love found one in the SegWay Suite of electronic commerce applications from Signal Internet Technologies in Pittsburgh, Pa. In Toro's case, the middleware acts as a data translator and access layer, providing a path between a Web server hosted at a US West switching center and the mainframe or SAP system.

In addition to the fact that Signal could work with the mainframe and the SAP system, Love particularly like the vendor's use of a rules-based engine.

"We go to market in a lot of different ways, and we needed an engine that would be able to sort out who was coming into us, what their relationship was with Toro, their country, language, method of financing. There are literally hundreds of variables that have to be sorted out before they can place an actual order or get to product registration," she says.

Love could not say exactly how much Toro invested in its extranet projects, but notes that bids from a request for proposal ranged from slightly less than $1 million to more than $8 million. "We chose on the lower end of the spectrum," says Love, adding that Toro also paid about $75,000 to bring up content and enable customers.

She's happy with the way things are going. "We had a mainframe. It had never connected to a single user two years ago," Love adds. "This year, we have had more than one million visitors to our extranets."

Fujitsu PC's first Web-to-legacy projects didn't just open a new door to its mainframes; they opened whole new lines of business.

The Milpitas, Calif., company launched a new sales division that markets refurbished laptops only through its World Wide Web site. With the help of the Santa Clara, Calif., consulting firm Inventa, Fujitsu's project was up and running this summer after only weeks of development, says Usha Sekar, chief information officer for the company.

Hyperlinks on Fujitsu PC's Web pages draw laptop listings in real time from a legacy Oracle database, so users see only the available stock. Fujitsu PC installed CyberSource electronic commerce software, which provides a shopping cart for purchases and checks users' credit when they complete an HTML form. Sales are by credit card only.

The information in the online form goes to the same Oracle database, which runs under Solaris on a Sun server, and feeds the Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) system Fujitsu PC already had in place. If this system isn't automated enough, it has another twist: Fulfillment is outsourced to Federal Express, which warehouses the refurbished laptops. Fed Ex enters Fujitsu PC's password-protected intranet, polls the ERP periodically and gets shipment orders.

"From the time the customer places the order to the time we ship the product, the process is 100% hands off," Sekar says.

Even the Web site is off premises. Exodus, an Internet data center in Santa Clara, hosts www.fujitsu.com. Fujitsu PC opted for the high availability, security and bandwidth a host could offer.

Now Fujitsu PC is applying the experience it's gained pitching refurbished laptops online to its next Web-to-legacy project: selling customer-configured systems.

Again with Inventa's help, Fujitsu PC expects in December to launch an online marketplace for user-configured PCs. Although the initial process is similar, in this case users will be routed to an appropriate Fujitsu PC distributor. What's more, the price quotes will be those of the distributor to which the customer is referred. "We wanted to enhance our markets, but not take away business from our channel partners," Sekar says.

Her staff is working with Inventa consultants to modify a system configuration program, written in Java from the vertical market software developer Selectica, and build an interface from it to the Oracle ERP.

"We'll use the same technology to improve our supplier and channel communication," Sekar adds. "If we cut down the time and effort it takes to place and ship an order, we will have improved the process at both ends."

She expects the user-configured sales program will be highly automated, too. For example, scripts will generate e-mail to the buyer, supplying the Fed Ex waybill number and the URL for the courier's package-tracking application.

"Legacy integration application has already proved a tremendous boon," she says.

Green screens might be the bane of the mainframe world, but anything more would be overkill for Omron Electronics' needs.

The company wanted to give its 150 distributors the opportunity to access its order-entry application running on an AS/400 minicomputer. It didn't want to have to train them on using a complicated graphical user interfaces says Randall Smith, director of corporate information systems at Omron in Schaumburg, Ill.

"I needed a self-evident application that provided a window to our host system over the Internet," Smith says.

No training and the Web access are important for cost reasons. When Omron first decided to give distributors host access, it did so via a value-added network. It incurred substantial costs training the distributors how to access the network, and the distributors in turn racked up big bills from dial-up and traffic charges.

Last November, Omron began beta testing a Wall Data product now known as Cyberprise Host. Distributors go to a designated Web site and click on a URL that takes them to the Cyberprise Server, which sits in a demilitarized zone at Omron. The server, in turn, links to the AS/400.

After logging on to the Cyberprise Server and to the AS/400, the distributors can do business activities such as enter orders, change orders and check inventory through traditional terminal emulation-type screens. "Web access enables a higher transaction level," Smith says. "I can't yet say that we've done more business because of it, but we're capable of doing more business because of it."

What Smith can say is that this implementation has reduced the company's operating costs by about 70% and that Omron realized its return on investment for this project in six months.

You can't say MCI WorldCom doesn't believe in variety when it comes to back-end systems, although a Web browser has become the client of choice.

The telecommunications giant has thousands of mainframe and minicomputers of just about every imaginable type, says Bruce Fletcher, advisory engineer with MCI WorldCom's strategic accounts engineering offices in Richardson, Texas. He rattles off a sample: Amdahl, Hitachi and IBM mainframes; a fleet of superminis from Digital, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems; and a few minicomputers from vendors that aren't around anymore. Almost everything runs Unix, Fletcher says.

And these machines are everywhere. MCI WORLDCOM has data centers in places such as Colorado Springs, Pentagon City, Va., and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Supporting equipment numbers also are impressive. Fletcher estimates that MCI WorldCom's Global Network Operations maintains more than 6,000 routers, 2,000 multiplexers and 200 fiber rings, for a start.

The legacy systems maintain customer data for those operations and more. Last year, MCI WorldCom provided some $1.6 billion in outsourcing services, and those systems manage more than 200 customer networks, as well as MCI WorldCom's own operations, Fletcher says.

The Year 2000 problem pales to the challenge of Webifying all the applications, Fletcher jokes. "We have so many systems, it would take us until 3000 to write custom applications for them."

But MCI WorldCom has made great headway in its Web-to-legacy mission, Fletcher says. Corporate customers can log onto an extranet to place and track service orders, get price quotes and check the status of outsourced operations, for example. The extranet is great for managing troubleshooting, Fletcher notes; customers can browse their way to check on the status of problems and of repairs.

The most security conscious customers can set up a virtual private network connection to check any of their information. MCI WorldCom also runs a certificate authority for extranet access.

Key to MCI WorldCom's quick Web-to-legacy efforts is Tarantella, a middleware server from The Santa Cruz Operation. To the mainframe or minicomputer, Tarantella looks and acts like a terminal emulator or other standard client, so the host application runs unmodified. Tarantella sends the host data as a Java applet to the browser.

"Don't change the application, Web it," Fletcher says. "If you start from scratch and build a custom Web front end to your applications, you have to do so much testing and get everything verified, it could take years. If I just use the same application on the host and communicate through Tarantella, I can put something together faster and save money, too."

The practice has extended the life of the mainframes, even with the minicomputer population growing, Fletcher adds. "We'll never get rid of the mainframes. They still pump data faster than anything, and they've got the bandwidth."

Likewise, Fletcher says, browsers are here to stay. "Browsers are the right tool to retrieve information for us and our customers, whether we're running a PC application or a Motif application or something on the host."

The first Web-to-legacy application developed by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) in northern California was a classic case of good timing and bad weather.

The El Nino storms that battered the West Coast last winter kept power company crews busy, but the information systems held their own. Just a few months earlier, PG&E had put a Java front end on an outage tracking system that monitors power service for the 4.4 million customers scattered across 70,000 square miles.

Outage PC went online in 1995 as a client/server system with limited staff access, and was reborn in late 1996 as Outage PC-Web, residing on PG&E's intranet. The Java upgrade in spring 1997 added a map view to the application's text reports. Outage PC-Web is a data-viewing and ad hoc reporting tool that monitors power outage reports, including locations, times and repair status.

Data for the outage tracking system resides in several legacy systems, including IBM mainframes, minicomputers and even a Windows NT machine, housed in various data centers in the Bay Area. Customer service representatives input most data.

"Previously, we had to go to a number of various systems and extract the information. This puts it in one spot, and Java makes it easy for all levels of users to access," says Harold Paddock, supervisor of NT applications at PG&E in San Francisco.

The data makes a quick but dramatic journey to browsers. Users activate a Java applet when they click on the Outage PC-Web page. Allaire's Cold Fusion Application Server, the key middleware, resides on a Windows NT system along with a Microsoft SQL Server database, a mainframe transaction server and a Microsoft Internet Information Server that is one of the Web servers that supports the intranet.

Cold Fusion tags, or scripts, written into the HTML in the Web page are activated when users query the Outage program. The Cold Fusion Application Server then queries the SQL Server database, which checks the mainframe transaction server for the latest information.

That transaction server mimics a 3270 client when it queries the legacy systems. It parses the answers and writes the data as a flat file for the SQL Server, which sends the information back to the Cold Fusion Application Server. The Cold Fusion tags dynamically generate the data on the Web page.

The map view is updated every three minutes; the text view is refreshed manually, which makes it easier to print, Paddock says. Anyone with access to PG&E's intranet can view the data.

"We really put this application through its paces during El Nino, but it stayed stable," says Paddock, adding, however, that his team did free up disk space for the SQL Server data because outage and repair information grew during the stormy winter months.

Paddock also notes that it is still the most frequently hit Web server on the intranet. He estimates Outage PC-Web garnered up to 53% of all hits at its peak.

Development took only about two weeks for two full-time staff members, and probably the same amount of work-hours over the past six months for improvements, Paddock says.

Other Web-to-legacy projects are popping up at PG&E, because so much vital data is in mainframes and browsers are becoming a standard desktop interface at the utility company, Paddock says.

The Electric and Gas Line Extension (EAGLE) application, which went online in late 1996, has the same basic Web-to-legacy architecture as Outage PC-Web, but does not use a Java desktop, Paddock says. This intranet application draws from a variety of legacy databases to help PG&E business customer service representatives more accurately estimate billings.

EAGLE is typically invoked by service representatives who work with large customers such as shopping centers or commercial industrial complexes, Paddock says. Previously, they would run a series of spreadsheet calculations from mainframe data to project power costs. Making such estimates is an inexact art because the complex rate schedules vary depending on rate options, specific usage patterns, tariffs and ever-changing regulatory requirements.

Representatives wanted a tool to apply specific account information to various rate scenarios, Paddock says. Most of the necessary data is in a rate-estimation system on a mainframe, so it was a matter of Webifying the application.

The IT staff again built a transaction system involving a Cold Fusion Application Server, SQL Server and mainframe transaction server that work together to compile and present mainframe data on the fly in HTML format.

EAGLE is more precise and much faster than running the application through 3270 terminal emulation, Paddock says. Representatives can check it themselves, instead of asking IT to generate a report that sometimes took more than a day to obtain.

Paddock estimates the project took about five business days. The data was available and the developers were experienced with Web-to-legacy architecture.

"I look at Web to host not because it's slick, but as an intranet application where I can wrap a lot of functions into one interface. The user should have no idea that the information he received came from six different hoses," Paddock says.

So far, PG&E has met its goals of a simple interface and easily maintained applications. And the mainframes aren't going anywhere.

For more info:
Contact Executive Editor Beth Schultz
or Senior Editor Peggy Watt

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