About Asif Hussain

In the software industry from 2002, having experience in design, development, and analysis of enterprise software products, project management and public speaking.

Handled dozens of e-commerce web projects. Involved in development and implementation of financial applications and online stock trading platforms for banks and brokerage houses. Also worked on projects for Oil & Gas Marketing companies and Car Tracker systems.

Specializes in Enterprise Application Modernization, Islamic Murabaha / Margin Financing solutions, Portfolio management, Trade Settlement, and Online Stock Trading Engines.

Have worked as lead implementer for Customer Relationship Management systems (Oracle's Siebel CRM on demand & Sugar CRM).

Also have worked as lead analyst, project manager, and data migration expert for huge projects in government sector.

Currently working as 'Project Manager', Trainer and Senior Consultant, IBM Rational Enterprise Modernization' using IBM Rational HATS/HOD for Royal Cyber projects worldwide.

I am an MBA(Marketing) from College of Business Management(CBM/IoBM). Prior to that, graduated in Computer Engineering from Bahria University.

Why Outsource IT Services?

In today’s corporate world, when decision to hire professional services has to be taken, many businesses trust on past experience of internal project implementation. There is a hesitation in hiring external service professionals when an internal IT department exists. The threat in this tactic is that it may lead to a situation where your team will drain efforts and time in re-inventing the wheel and will eventually decrease the ROI.

Generally, outsourced IT support is better from the aspect of cost-effectiveness than creating an in-house IT support helpdesk. An internal department for a certain type of IT support would require full time or may be staff members working in different shifts, depending on your size of company and level of required service.

Outsourced IT support can be quick to setup, equipped with better trained and experienced resources, highly scalable on the basis of level of support required and cost effective due to absence of training cost and shared resources may be operating from a cheaper remote location.

Out sourcing IT saves time for people to focus on running and growing the business. Many organizations realize this, as they grow, business conversant employees end up becoming an ‘IT scapegoat’. These ‘IT scapegoat’ are bombarded with requests for help whenever something goes wrong in the IT infrastructure, distracting them from their actual business.

Professional consultants work with a wide range of businesses and have faced different circumstances.  That is why they have a strong understanding of an industry’s “Best Practices” which can be used to help companies solve their problems and meet their specific business objectives.

Royal Cyber is a premium IT service provider, we have specialized teams and resources to handle your technology related problems in the best possible manner, so that you can emphasize on your business and let us manage your IT infrastructure and solution development. We have a profile and history of IT consulting and solution development in different fields including enterprise modernization, portalet development and portal server maintenance, application server maintenance and administration, software application development, system monitoring and mobile solutions. Royal Cyber is an IBM premium business partner and Microsoft Gold partner.

Modernizing Legacy IBM i Applications

The IBM i has a large user base of legacy applications that are written in older languages like RPG and COBOL and display green screens.  These applications are carrying out core jobs for several companies. They were created well earlier then the internet, the cloud or hand held devices reached masses.

Most companies using these systems are feeling need to modernize their functionality specially their look and feel. For them many new requirements have evolved in the past years. Also, there is market need to cater ever-growing range of cellular or hand held devices however not compromising on security concerns.

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The cost-of-ownership for IBM i is a lot smaller than that of Linux/Oracle or Windows/SQL server. Organizations are reluctant to change to these other platforms, or to applications considered as being more “modern”, due to the big costs involved and disturbance to business. They see benefit in continuing their existing investment in the IBM i and modernizing their applications to encounter new demands. Their current hardware is reliable and they have no issue of performance even to meet expected growth for the next couple of years.

The Modernization.

Modernization has progressed from simple screen scrapers to complex rule based scenarios and workflow updates. Vendors make all kinds of promises, however these so called quick and inexpensive solutions to cloud and mobile solutions, often ignore the need to add new functionality and work flows.

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What actually is required is an experienced solution provider with a track record of modernization in different industries that will guide you to fruitful results keeping the best ROI.

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Royal Cyber can modernize traditional text-based interfaces (i.e. 3270 and 5250 green-screen applications) into web, portlet, rich client or mobile device user interfaces. We are also considered experts in extending 3270, 5250 and virtual terminal (VT) applications as web services.

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We can help you reuse and re purpose your existing assets in advanced and more marketable ways.

Successful IBM i Modernization

Beyond a fraction of doubt IBM i is still a topnotch application server, it ensures amazing robustness, scalability, dependability, security and little cost of ownership. The necessity to modernize and transform 5250 applications has increased with time. Not only to improving the way these applications appearance, but the way they actually work and perform.

Fruitful modernization of IBM i applications can provide a quick return on investment (ROI) and long-standing benefits. However, doing modernization in the wrong way with the wrong tools can be disastrous! A miscarried modernization project can be the last straw for some companies that seem to have overlooked the business worth the IBM i has been bringing for years. An efficacious project, on the other hand, can be the first step to ensuring a bright future for IBM i applications and enhanced success for your business.

One of the key aspects to have big success in modernization is dependent on leveraging your existing source code and database. If the current application is complimenting the business well from the practical side, then there are many benefits in keep using this system as foundation anywhere as much as possible. By reusing present source code you cut cost, risks, and time needed to make use of the modernized application.

Modernization suites are getting matured to include integrated support with development. This is critical when new features are required quickly, and flawlessly couples with standing applications. Modernized solutions are about reusing where sensible and creating new code where compulsory, within a services architecture, so that a foundation is created that meets current requirements while giving a platform for future development and requirements.

What’s New in HATS 9.0

IBM has released Rational Host Access Transformation Services 9.0, this article highlights the new features and fixes HATS 9.0 has brought.

New Application Server

Now HATS for the first time supports Oracle WebLogic Server with HATS v9.0. You can develop, test run and deploy HATS web applications on Oracle WebLogic Server.

This means HATS 9.0 is now compatible with Oracle Web Logic along with regular IBM WebSphere Application Server and Apache Geronimo Server.

Content Assistance for Macros

With HATS v9.0 now content assistance can be used while editing a macro by Source tab of the Macro Editor or Visual Macro Editor.

Input Fields, ID Attribute

The id attribute is added along with the name attribute to all input fields in HATS transformations. This helps programmers in a number of ways including while writing custom JavaScript.

This function was modified to HATS by a fix pack to the previous version. It is now part of HATS V9.0.

Coexistence

HATS v9.0 can coexist with HATS V6, V7.0, V7.1, V7.5, V8.0, and V8.5, HATS V9.0 can also be mounted several times on the same system. It can be installed and coexist with numerous Rational SDP offerings servicing on your system.

Fixes

Following is the complete listing of fix packs and interim fixes IBM Rational Host Access Transformation Services v9.0 has.

  • Issues Fixed
  • If input field has less characters than original data in the field, data gets corrupted.

  • When the cursor is at the second last position, exit key does not always work.

  • DBCS field, wrong cursor position.

  • ERASE EOF key issue.

  • In iSeries, pooled session stops abnormally

  • While rendering view, NoSuchElementException

  • While sending data to host, addition of extra spaces.

  • While using “Include host and non-host input fields” incorrect movement of cursor to the wrong input field.

  • Repeat find in RCP ability.

  • Web service issue on Geronimo RESTful

HATS Application Development for Oracle WebLogic Server

HATS web application development can be targeted for the Oracle WebLogic Server, with HATS 9.0 development, testing, and deployment of HATS Application is now possible even on Oracle WebLogic.

Installing WebLogic Test Server

Let’s see how Rational Software Delivery Platform or Rational SDP can be configured with Oracle WebLogic Server to create and test HATS web applications.

Download Oracle WebLogic Server from following download link http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/weblogic/downloads/index.html and install it as per the instructions given at the Oracle site.

Configure WebLogic in Rational SDP

To mount Oracle WebLogic Server tools:

  1. Click Window > Preferences on the menu bar of Rational SDP.
  2. Expand Server in the left panel.
  3. Click on Runtime Environments.
  4. Click Add, in the panel of Server Runtime Environments.
  5. Click at Download additional server adapters.
  6. From the list choose Oracle WebLogic Server Tools and click Next.
  7. Accept the licensing agreement, click Finish.
  8. Click OK, to restart.

Configure WebLogic as a test server in Rational SDP for the testing of HATS web applications:

  1. Click Window > Preferences, on the menu bar of Rational SDP.
  2. Expand Server, in the left panel.
  3. Click on the Runtime Environments.
  4. Click Add, in the panel of Server Runtime Environments.
  5. Expand the Oracle folder, In New Server Runtime Environment.
  6. Choose suitable version of Oracle WebLogic Server.
  7. Click Next and enter the root folder of the WebLogic server installation in the field of WebLogic home.
  8. Click Finish and then Click OK to close the Preferences panel.

Now you can develop HATS applications in Rational SDP for Oracle WebLogic Server, however only one HATS web application can be supported per .ear file on an Oracle WebLogic Server.

Private Cloud – An Enterprise Need

Private cloud is a specific type of cloud computing that provides distinct and secure cloud environment, control on its resources are only available to its owner thus it is operated by a single client. A cloud environment provides service of computing power in a virtualized environment by using an underlying set of physical computing assets. Control on one such virtual environment is given to a single client in private cloud, this provides better privacy and security.

Private cloud services are normally categorized and priced by the features, operating systems, available RAM, storage and bandwidth that they offer.

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The private cloud is similar to a traditional setup of individual computers on local access networks (LANs) used in the past by organizations and enterprises, however private cloud give the added advantages of virtualization. Following are some prominent features of cloud environment.

  • Greater security and privacy- public clouds can implement a specific level of security, whereas private clouds can offer much more in this, private cloud environments use methods such as distinct pools of resources with access restrictions to make it much more secure.
  • Better control- a private cloud is only made available to a single organization, concerned resources of that organization get the ability to configure, control and manage it online on the basis of their needs.
  • Cost efficiency- creating a private cloud model improves the resource allocation in an organization by ensuring that the availability of resources to individual departments/team can flexibly respond to the demand.
  • Improved reliability- creation of virtualized environments for operations ensures that the network is much more resilient to normal individual failures in terms of the physical infrastructure.

Installing JBoss Application Server 7

JBoss is a trusted application server, it is a product of Red Hat. We are focusing installation of JBoss Application Server 7 in this article.

Installing JAVA SE

As a prerequisite we need to install JDK 1.6 or JDK 1.7. Java SE can be downloaded from http://tinyurl.com/downloadjdknew

We can download and install Java SE 6 or Java SE 7. To see JAVA SE installation guide please visit http://tinyurl.com/javasenew

 

Verify JAVA SE installation

After completing JAVA SE installation, we need to execute the command java -version to verify the validity of the installation:

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Installing JBoss AS7

To install JBoss AS 7, we need to download JBoss application server, it can be downloaded from the community site for free: http://tinyurl.com/rcjbossas

Download any version preferably with Final, as part of version name.

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Installing JBoss AS very simple and straight forward: it is in fact simply unpacking the archive jboss-as-7.1.1.Final.zip.

Users on windows platform can simply use any un-compression utility, (i.e. WinZip, or WinRAR). Unix /Linux users should use unzip shell command that would explode the archive:

$ unzip jboss-as-7.0.2.Final.zip

Caution: Unix/Linux users should know that JBoss application server does not need root privileges as the default ports used by JBoss are under the port range of 1024. To minimize the hazard of users getting root privileges by the JBoss, make sure you install & run JBoss as a user other than root.

Starting up JBoss AS

Once JBoss is uncompressed, we will perform a startup test to confirm that there are no issues with our Java VM/operating system etc. To verify our JBoss installation, get into the bin directory of JBOSS_HOME and run the command:

Windows Users:
standalone.bat

Linux/Unix users:
$ standalone.sh

Following is a JBoss AS 7 startup screen for sample:

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Command shown above starts up a standalone instance of JBoss that’s like starting an application server with run.bat/run.sh script used by older JBoss releases.

You can validate that the server is up and running from any device accessible from network by pointing your browser to the application server on port 8080, as the server runs on this port by default.

How HATS engine works?

HATS is an IBM Rational tool that transforms IBM 5250, 3270 and VT green screen applications to web applications. To understand better how HATS engine internally works we need to see what “HATS screen recognition criteria” is.

HATS uses screen recognition criteria to match host screens. Host screens can be recognized by HATS engine through any criteria, for example total fields are on the screen, cursor coordinates, and specific text strings on the screen at a defined place or anywhere on the screen. When a host shows a screen, HATS engine picks it and searches to see whether the current screen matches any of the defined screen recognition criteria within the project. If HATS engine catches a match, the programmed actions for the screen customization are executed.

Following diagram illustrates the flow, how HATS engine performs the transformation.

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Host shows a screen, HATS performs a comparison among screen recognition criterion defined in the project, this is done in the order defined by project’s event priority.
When a match is found, HATS performs the specified actions for the recognized screen customization, these actions may include,

  • Application of a transformation
  • Execution of business logic
  • Interaction with global variables
  • Forwarding to a URL
  • Playing a specific macro.

If there is no matching screen recognition criteria for the host screen, HATS processes an event designed for unmatched screens. The default action of this unmatched event is to show the host screen by the default transformation and only applying the project’s default template, this creates a webpage on the fly using the text and fields present on host screen.

As the 5250/3270 host displays new screen, HATS initiates with all these steps again and proceeds through these the each step.

Why to Choose JBoss Application Server 7

JBoss application server 7 is much advanced as compared to its older versions, following are some of the salient new features worth knowing before choosing a JBoss application server version.

Rapid start-up

JBoss application server 7 booting time is much faster than its previous versions. The boot process of JBoss 7 is extremely optimized, many services in JBoss 7 are started concurrently as today’s machines have multi-core processors. Various services that are not critical are not started until needed.

Boots after the first one are even faster due to the indexed or cached metadata. JBoss application server 7 has a 10 times faster start-up time as compared to previous versions.

Light on Memory

JBoss 7 manages memory aggressively and minimizes pauses for garbage collection, it only loads the JAR files it needs and makes use of indexed metadata to avoid full parses, keeping the memory usage remarkably low.

Centralized configuration management

JBoss 7 provides centralized configuration management which is much simpler and user friendly, it gives an easy to use view for administrator and managers while configuring the server.

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Development friendly

JBoss Application Server gives you an extremely fast cycle for modification, compilation and testing of any component model, making it very easy for developers to work with JBoss Application Server in the test environment.

HATS Environment Overview

HATS applications are deployed on an application server, latest version of HATS supports Apache Geronimo, Oracle WebLogic along with IBM WebSphere application server and portal. HATS application end-users initiate a transaction by entering a URL in a browser. This request travels by a TCP/IP network, the request from the client machine goes to WAS and then to HATS application, HATS application is a standard WebSphere application.

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Standard HATS system environment.

The HATS application on WAS connects to the IBM 5350, 3270 or VT terminal can generate web based graphical interface on the fly, it can also combine screens, change workflows, execute macros and perform many different modernizations based on the screen customizations and global rules. Global rules are part of the default rendering approach of the HATS.

These global rules allow recognition or patterns and transformation of the input fields from host. Rules can be defined for the entire project or specific to a certain host screen.

HATS engine checks each host screen against the list of screen events. HATS has following two types of events,

  • Application events
  • Screen events

Application events are the events that are fired automatically by HATS, they are error events or busy event that is fired by HATS engine, when the host is busy.

Screen customization is a very important concept in the development of a Rational HATS based modernization project. HATS engine decides which set of actions to take when a specific host screen is encountered based on defined screen recognition criteria.