PLATFORMS: The client software for CONNX runs on Microsoft Windows 95 and NT-based PCs. The server software for CONNX runs on a Digital mainframe.

BACKGROUND: The Legislative Service Center (LSC) maintains and supports the legislative computing system for the Washington State Legislature. LSC supports between 700 and 800 users when in session and between 500 and 600 users when the legislature is not in session. The LSC staff consists of 41 staff members dispensing technical support and expertise. LSC's services include: computer training; computer support and repair; applications support; technical support; and coordination of information systems planning.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The Washington State Legislature's system is a host-based computing environment residing on a VAX. As part of the strategy to move the lawmaking system to a more contemporary computer environment, it was necessary to provide read and write access to data stored in RMS files from PC clients. CONNX offered LSC an effective "bridge" to this legacy system. Through its client/server model, CONNX met this need by providing a standard method (ODBC) for PC-based applications to access VAX RMS data. CONNX also assured LSC of viable data that was easily updated.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: CONNX is functioning very well for LSC as ease of use remains important to legislators and staff. For the LSC technical staff, CONNX is easy to install and configure. CONNX also provides a simplified method to update data on LSC's legacy system while streamlining the connection between the legacy system and reengineered components. CONNX provides LSC with connectivity to RMS data.

STRENGTHS: The main strengths of this product are its speed, flexibility, ease of use and stability in providing direct access to legacy data through PC tools. Configuration is very straightforward and simple. Configuration processes are performed using the standard ODBC management utilities on the PC. CONNX uses VMS security by logging into the VAX using the client's VAX account. This insures that the client has access to only those files that are authorized. Additionally, CONNX provides for column and row level security if needed.

WEAKNESSES: Earlier versions of CONNX do not support transactions; however, transactions will be supported in version 7.02 of CONNX. Rollback functionality has to be coded into the application. Previous releases of documentation on RPC calls were somewhat incomplete and tended to be difficult to understand. These issues have been resolved in version 7.

SELECTION CRITERIA: LSC was looking to move to a more contemporary database architecture. LSC required a viable database system for real-time, read-write access to RMS data. The predominant reasons for LSC's selection of CONNX include the product's ease of use, speed, flexibility, simple installation procedure and competitive cost.

DELIVERABLES: CONNX provides the State of Washington Legislature ODBC access to RMS-based data on the VAX from a PC-based client application. CONNX has allowed the LSC staff to deliver legislative data to the VAX. With legislative users working on PCs, it was important for CONNX to remain invisible to the user while allowing for ease of use and speed.

VENDOR SUPPORT: SolutionsIQ support of CONNX has been excellent. SolutionsIQ has been was very responsive to our error reports and has quickly delivered solutions.

DOCUMENTATION: CONNX can be run easily from the documentation.

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