Case study

Host Access for the Cloud provides easy web access to mainframe applications with advanced security built in

Challenge

Abraxas provides applications for tax collection, accounting, citizen registration, etc. It relies on its IBM mainframe environment and used Micro Focus® Reflection® for the Web to provide access to the mainframe-based applications for database administrators and developers. Abraxas is formed from a merger, and the other party used an IBM host connectivity solution. Michael Seger, Data Center and Mainframe Manager for Abraxas, picks up the story: “We had been really pleased with the support provided by Micro Focus. We have a custom-built identity and access management solution that gave us some issues when we first introduced Reflection for the Web. Micro Focus Support and R&D went beyond the call of duty to help us solve these. When we wanted to consolidate our host connectivity product strategies across the new company, Micro Focus was the obvious solution for us.”

He continues: “The consolidation project provided a great opportunity to address some challenges. Reflection for the Web relies on Java, and with Java moving out of the open source area, that was an additional cost for us. In addition we found it hard to maintain different Java versions with our many applications, and Reflection upgrades could be problematic as a result.”

Abraxas also wanted to move away from downloading client software, which was required with Reflection for the Web. It looked for a solution that would be transparent to users and deliver additional security within their identity and access management environment.

Solution

Abraxas introduced Host Access for the Cloud (formerly Reflection ZFE), designed to deliver HTML5-based emulation with a true zerofootprint client. Combined with Automated Sign-On for Mainframe Add-On, Host Access for the Cloud enables automatic sign-on to mainframe applications, avoiding risky password management that would sometimes require mainframe recoding. It integrates into the existing Abraxas identity and access management environment and delivers a seamless experience with full authentication, authorisation, and audit rights.

Kurt Gantner, System Specialist, at Abraxas, explains how Host Access for the Cloud helps users in their daily activities: “Users can easily move from one workplace to the next and continue their work in Host Access for the Cloud with just a couple of clicks; it has really improved our productivity. It is also helpful when working ‘on the move’ with an unreliable connection. If network connection is interrupted, Host Access for the Cloud will save everything and simply pick it up again when reconnected.”

The move to Host Access for the Cloud was mostly transparent for users and no training was required. There is no need for a Java client and users can access their mainframe applications simply by using an HTML5-compatible browser.

Gantner notes an additional benefit: “As Host Access for the Cloud does not require a session manager on the mainframe, fewer CPU cycles are used. Mainframe costs are based on MIPS usage, and this represents a reduction in our licence costs.”

Abraxas also likes the fact that Host Access for the Cloud works on a ‘jump host’ principle. This means that the user does not access the mainframe directly. They connect to the Host Access for the Cloud server, which will then start a session to the mainframe. This is in full compliance with the Abraxas identity and access management environment, and improves overall security.

Results

With a central administration point, no need to distribute client software, and a well-defined upgrade path, Host Access for the Cloud is easily supported by the IT department. The user friendly web access is popular with users, who enjoy the familiar interface.

Seger also found other benefits: “By consolidating our license and maintenance costs, and reducing our MIPS consumption on the mainframe, we realized a substantial annual cost saving. Host Access for the Cloud has improved our security and works seamlessly within our identity and access management environment.”

Gantner concludes: “Micro Focus supported us through our migration project. We created a great partnership in which we could collaborate on our requirements and find solutions together.”

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Abraxas case study

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Wed Oct 28 21:33:24 PDT 2020