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In order to have integrated business solution, Microsoft has come up with a range of flexible business product suites which consists of Commerce Server, BizTalk Server and Host Integration Server. This article is intended to provide you an introduction of Microsoft Host Integration Server and its underlying benefits for the businesses.
Most of the enterprise businesses and organizations always wanted to leverage their existing investments on IT, including age-old host systems which run critical business-process workloads, store business-critical data and information.
A major challenge to these organizations is to continually keep investing in their existing legacy platforms, and at the same time enhance these systems so that they can accommodate new workloads enabling service-enablement, enhanced business flow, advanced business intelligence, on-line transactions, and team collaboration within the business.
Microsoft realized that they cannot ignore the importance of these existing investments in different legacy platforms and should offers tools and technologies for integrating with these existing platforms. Microsoft came up with new solutions on diverse media such as desktops, devices and servers running Microsoft Windows systems and application platform, which can be easily integrated with the legacy systems. So, retaining existing investments and integrating new Application Platform with them brings lots of benefits to organizations and businesses.
For the sake of this integration, Microsoft Host Integration Server came into picture, which actually has replaced the Microsoft's SNA Server, which was used earlier for serving similar cases.
Now let's take a quick tour of what Microsoft Host Integration Server is all about.
What is Microsoft Host Integration Server?
Microsoft released Commerce Server with primary purpose of integrating legacy systems with Microsoft based Applications. Microsoft states Host Integration Server as "Microsoft Host Integration Server technologies and tools enable enterprise organizations to integrate existing IBM host systems, programs, messages and data with new Microsoft server applications." MSDN states Host Integration Server as "Microsoft Host Integration Server provides comprehensive host access and integration, extending Microsoft Windows to other systems by integrating mission-critical host applications, data sources, messaging, and security systems. This enables the reuse of IBM mainframe and midrange data and applications across distributed environments."
Using Microsoft Host Integration Server, Business can connect to their existing systems and data on non-Microsoft platform like IBM mainframe, allowing their IT department to continue those investments and extend to new areas like business intelligence, service-oriented architecture and business process solutions built on the latest Microsoft Application Platform.
Host Integration Server extends Microsoft Platform to on-Microsoft platforms by providing interoperability in main three areas:
Application Integration Services
Data Integration Services
Network Integration Services
It facilitates data and application integration, enabling developers on Microsoft Platform to publish business processes in legacy application like IBM mainframe and AS/400 data and applications as XML Web Services, which brings their Host applications and their underlying processes into a more flexible Services Oriented Environment. On the other hand, Host Integration Server also facilitates integration of existing Network Infrastructure, Security System and User Management of the old LOB (Line of Business) Applications with new systems.
Microsoft Host Integration Server integrates with applications, their underlying data and with different network easily facilitating rapid and flexible deployment and integration. Using this, Business can easily retrieve data from a wide range of data source, e.g., Microsoft SQL Server, DB2 in Windows NT, 2000, UNIX, AS400 Servers. On the other hand, using Host Integration Server you can integrate the legacy host systems with the information networks without actually migrating their data to new system, that can either be client-server based or web based.
Along with Host Integration Server, Microsoft also releases a wide range of tools and services that gives clients transparent access to data on mainframes, AS/400, UNIX, Windows 2000, and Windows NT servers. This means Business can continue to use their legacy back-end systems and applications but provide access to them in new ways, including windows-based interfaces as well as Web-based interfaces.
Microsoft Host Integration Server Versions
With latest version as Host Integration Server 2010, Microsoft released the following versions of the product at the time of writing this article.
Host Integration Server 2010 (October 2010)
Host Integration Server 2009 (March 2009)
Host Integration Server 2006 (February 2006)
Host Integration Server 2004 (August 2004)
Host Integration Server 2000 (August 2000)
Microsoft Host Integration Server comprises of plenty of features - this article would highlight the most important ones out of that list. Here's a quick glance at the most important features of the product:
Easy & Affordable: Host Integration Server 2010 gives Business lower IT ownership cost, along with rapid and flexible deployment mode of solutions. Solutions can easily be deployed onto latest Windows platforms, without loosing connection to the existing legacy systems.
Host Programs Integration: Apart from add-on tools of Visual Studio, there are available tools provided by Host Integration Server TI (Transaction Integrator) which helps enterprise application developers automatically generate .NET components, and Web for integrating the existing programs in IBM, IMS, i5/OS computers, and CICS.
Host Sessions Integration: Tools like Session Integrator offers programming interfaces for .Net and COM for emulation and automation of access to mainframe based programs through a High Performance network connection.
Host Data Integration: It support remote data access from a range of host applications like DB2, IBM Mainframe, etc.
Network Integration & Consolidation: Host Integration Server's network integration services can easily connect to different Windows based devices, client, and server to existing IBM mainframe and other host systems, helping IT professionals to reduce their operating costs by consolidating their network infrastructure.
Secure Host Connectivity and Identity Management: Host Integration Server now offers Enterprise level Single Sign-On (SSO) for defining, storing and retrieving user mappings between Windows Active Directory and foreign credentials. It also supports popular mainframe and other security systems.
How Host Integration Server helps different group of Users?
Microsoft Host Integration Server has something in its plate for all groups of Users:
Information Worker: Host Integration Server provide knowledge workers and decision-makers to analyze and report vital information faster, by giving them direct access to host data sources from BI (Business Intelligence) tools that came within different Microsoft product like SharePoint Server and SQL Server. This eliminates the need of hiring host developers to write programs to extract and convert host data structures.
Developers: It enables enterprise application developers to deliver new solutions faster through improved productivity tool using Microsoft Visual Studio, BizTalk Server and .Net Framework, without having any knowledge of host systems and its infrastructure.
IT Operations: Host Integration Server reduce operating cost and total ownership cost by allowing IT administrators to securely connect new systems, and utilize industry-standard high performance routing and transmission, also supports all existing and new business workloads as compared to heritage host network infrastructure.
For further information on Microsoft Host Integration Server, the following references would be helpful.
Official Blog for Host Integration Server
MSDN for Host Integration Server
TechNet for Host Integration Server
Host Integration Server at Microsoft Connect
Official Forum for Host Integration Server
This article briefly described Microsoft Host Integration Server and its importance. The main objective of this writing was to make you familiar with the product. You now know that Microsoft Host Integration Server is a great offering from Microsoft to those Businesses who wants to continue their existing investments on legacy applications like IBM Mainframe, but make fresh investment on latest Application Platform on Microsoft to leverage the advantages they brings with them, like integration with legacy systems, ease-to-use maintenance and administration tools, enhanced security features, and lots more as described in this article.