Riding the wireless wave with the AS/400

By Tim Fielden, InfoWorld |  Development

A SURPRISING consequence of the Internet revolution has been the explosion of the wireless scene. Wireless users can now access the Internet, their e-mail, and other corporate resources from various handheld devices. And with just as much enthusiasm as their users, many network managers are turning to wireless networking to simplify administration and reduce expenditures. IBM's AS/400 fits neatly into this picture, whether your goal is to allow wireless device-toting users, customers, and business partners to access AS/400 data or you are migrating to a wireless network.

As wireless networking continues to pick up steam, the biggest competitive advantage for wireless strategies is gained by providing access to e-business data and applications. By making your company's AS/400 data accessible via wireless devices, you create an always-on workforce: Wherever they are, your road warriors will be able to complete business transactions, maintain contact with customers, stay in touch with colleagues, and more.

In this Test Center Analysis, we examine some of the ways you might consider using the AS/400 as part of your overall wireless strategy. For example, you could enable wireless access to AS/400 data via e-mail, enable AS/400 application access via a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) gateway, or use a wireless service provider to better manage wireless access to your AS/400 e-business server.

Movin' on out

Before you can choose how you will enable wireless access to your AS/400, you need to determine if you want wireless users to get just AS/400 data or if they should also be able to access AS/400 applications. You'll need to inventory the data and applications you intend to make wireless-ready.

Customers upgrading to the latest release of OS/400 (see Review of V4R5), the AS/400's operating system, will find their journey to the wireless world made easier with the addition of native XML support, including wireless XML derivatives.

More cautious adopters can also get in on the fun by using an application server such as IBM's WebSphere on the AS/400. In addition to offering strong load-balancing capabilities, WebSphere provides all of the necessary translation capabilities for converting data into WML (Wireless Markup Language), part of the WAP standard.

If you have an adventurous spirit but lack Java or XML skills, IBM on its AlphaWorks Web site (www.alphaworks.ibm.com) offers a downloadable tool aptly named the XML for RPG (Report Program Generator) interface. Consisting of a set of RPG interfaces and a corresponding service program to act as front end for the XML4C parser for the AS/400, it enables legacy applications and their developers to move into the new wireless world quickly and without learning a slew of new technologies.

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