You're on a date with your significant other and your operator calls "The SO AND SO is down!" It is a 45-minute drive home to drop off your grumbling date. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a way to help your operator out for the five minutes of keystrokes you need to enter into your iSeries?
Monitoring the empire
How does your iSeries/System i get in touch with you? I like to use both SMS messages and email. SMS messages are messages you can send using your cell phone as a "short" email provider -- kind of like the Alphanumeric Pagers of yesteryear. Only this time, the message can come from your monitoring company (in the case of Web monitoring), and your AS/400, which would use either itself as an email sender, -- or bounce the email off your existing email infrastructure. So your sitting at your desk, and you receive an email about some server problem, and you cell phone rings with the message. There are a few packages out there that can send emails from CL programs, informing you of IMOPORTANT events or possibly problems.
There is also a neat package called ICOM/400 that monitors many aspects of your system, which is growing on a daily basis. These messages can be sent to your email, sent to your phone, where ever. The system is capable of receiving an email response as well, so you respond to the email received and it can answer the message on your AS/400 System operator queue (which is truly neat!) Want to use the phone? They also allow for an IVR (Interactive Voice Response – essentially a fancy answering machine for your computer) to respond to operator messages.
Lugging Around Hardware
There are some neat, small computers available for just this situation. Let's start with the ones that double as phones. The TREO – from Palm, has a built in Keyboard, and you can download and purchase TN-5250 software for it to sign into your AS/400. Open a port on your firewall for Telnet traffic, and bam! If you're security conscious, there are secured versions, but you can also use one of the many smartphones that utilize the Windows platform as well. Mocha-Soft has an array of products for your mobile device. How about for your Black Berry? A Company has created an emulation for the Blackberry. Idokorro has an array of products – from TN-5250 to Remote desktop solutions that use VNC to tie into the central systems.
Graduating from there, Sony makes a SMALL PC that is about the size of two CD cases across, and about three of them in thickness. These have a CELL Modem built in – from various companies, and since it's a PC it uses your standard VPN software to tie into your back end systems securely. Just use a familiar copy of iSeries Access. From there, other companies – such as OQO have small computers or a new comer FlipStart, which has a PC that uses a clam-shell design to deliver a fully working system at your thumb-tips. There are a growing number of smaller laptops with built in Cell Modems as well from MANY manufacturers.
Moving on to standard laptops, there's the PCMCIA Cell Modems from Verizon, Sprint and Cingular to name a few. Your mobile workforce has never had so many solutions at their fingertips.
About the author: Andrew Borts is webmaster at United Auto Insurance Group in North Miami, Fla. He is often a frequent speaker at COMMON and is past president of The Southern National Users Group, an iSeries-AS/400 user group based in Deerfield Beach, Fla.