PLATFORMS: Intel-based Web server (Netscape Enterprise server) hosting SimbaExpress2.0 and serving administrative applications to the World Wide Web. IBM/DB2 database on an MVS platform running Shadow Web Server.
BACKGROUND: Florida State University (FSU) is a non-profit educational institution which has traditionally provided services to a rapidly increasing population of students and employees with a robust IBM/MVS-based legacy system. Recently, FSU implemented a policy of Web-based delivery of services, active participation in the Internet II project and acquisition of a Java-based Electronic Document Management System (EDMS).
PROBLEM SOLVED: FSU facilitated browser-based delivery of services with SimbaExpress. Connectivity of downloaded applets to the DB2 database was achieved with the mid-tier SimbaExpress Server and Simba JDBC client. The database supports ODBC only. SimbaExpress server provided a robust JDBC-ODBC bridge and a 100 percent pure JDBC client that fit our needs perfectly. The server was able to seamlessly utilize a pre-installed third-party ODBC driver from Neon Systems for back-end connectivity to DB2. The availability of Oracle and Sybase drivers packaged with the server was also a big factor in choosing SimbaExpress for our n-tier environment. Of the similar products evaluated, SimbaExpress server, was the easiest to install and deploy.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: SimbaExpress is data access middleware that delivers integrated connectivity for high-performance ODBC and JDBC data access across the enterprise. SimbaExpress is optimized for high latency networks such as WANS, the Internet and intranets. Florida State University uses Simba for JDBC connectivity from a browser-based Java applet to a DB2 database. With SimbaExpress, we provide our end users with access to publicly available human resources data on demand through an easy-to-use graphical user interface. The applets can be run on any desktop browser capable of running Java.
STRENGTHS: SimbaExpress enabled us to solve our JDBC connectivity problem within 10 minutes of downloading the evaluation version. We found their high quality JDBC interface superior to any other solution we evaluated and selected SimbaExpress for its robustness and its deployability. With no client software requirements, deployment and supportability are completely taken care of.
WEAKNESSES: With the recent releases of several new APIs and maturity of Java, we hope to see strong encryption and SSL support.
SELECTION CRITERIA: 1) Direct Web-access to diverse databases in an n-tier architecture, using off-the-shelf ODBC drivers for server-to-data source connectivity; 2) Availability of a server that is easy to install, deploy and administer; and 3) Availability of a high performance JDBC client and a custom API.
DELIVERABLES: The Employee Information System is our first step towards Java-based delivery of services on the Web. This Object-Signed applet is developed using JDK1.1 for on-demand execution on any Java-capable browser. Through a series of drill-down menus we provide the following functionality:
1) Quick search for employees, contact information, appointment data and photographs. 2) Generate and save reports to client's computer on the fly. 3) Initiate e-mail or Internet conferencing sessions to any employee and browse an enlarged map of work locations. 4) Any employee can edit his/her profile. This system is a precursor to the faculty contact system that will enable on-line appointments and interface with our workflow and EDMS functions.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Simba has a very courteous and professional staff that responded quickly to our questions and followed up even after the issue was resolved.
DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and sufficient for administration and development.
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