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July 01, 2015

Reflection dives deeper into new brand

Last fall, Micro Focus announced it was acquiring Attachmate and several other companies. The merger of these IT firms marked another step for a popular HP server connection product, Reflection, toward a new life with a new name, even if its functionality remains the same.

The Chief Operating Officer of Micro Focus, Stephen Murdoch, has reported to customers about the strategy to meld the products from Borland, NetIQ, Attachmate, Novell and SUSE. The scope of what these companies have offered is significant. Development, networking, connectivity and evironments make up these acquisitions.

We will be simplifying the branding and packaging of our portfolios. As an example, we will combine our leading host connectivity solutions of Reflection and Rumba into one set of Micro Focus branded solutions offering the best of both technologies. A similar approach of simplification and alignment will be taken systematically, resulting in one company operating two product portfolios, namely Micro Focus and SUSE.

By all reports, Rumba didn't meet HP 3000 manager standards in its versions available before Attachmate acquired Reflection. That was in the days when the blended firm was called AttachmateWRQ. Few HP 3000 sites, if any, have learned to rely on Rumba for their connectivity. Now the tracking will commence on how the feature sets of Reflection and Rumba survive this combination.

The deepest level of 3000 integration in Reflection lies in its scripting language. When the news first broke about the Micro Focus acquisition of Attachmate, we checked in with a long-time Reflection user to see how Rumba might fill in. Reflection's macros have to be converted to a Rumba format called ELHAPPI, Enhanced High Level Language Application Program Interface. As with any acronymn that has seven letters, it's a design choice that's got quite a, well, legacy air to it. According to Glenn Mitchell of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina 

It's an API that goes back to the early PC days, and allowed a program running on the PC to "scrape" data from a terminal emulator session running on the PC. So it represents a big move backwards in technology from Reflection VBA. 

Our guys figured out a way to run our VBA scripts in Excel and trap most of the Reflection API calls (e.g. getdisplaytext) and convert them to equivalent EHLAPPI calls for Rumba. The gotcha is that they've only done the most frequently used API functions, and Rumba doesn't support all of the functions Reflection makes available via API.

Scripting inside of a terminal emulator product represents a deep level of technology. Just the sort of tool a 3000 shop deploys when it can command petabytes of data and tens of thousands of users. When things change with vendor plans, whether it's a system maker or a provider of software, support staff shifts its support to migration tasks.

As an interesting footnote to the changes in the outlook for Reflection -- given that Rumba has been offered as a replacement -- we turn to the a recent comment by Doug Greenup of Minisoft. "Minisoft has NS/VT in its HP terminal emulator," he noted when we described the unique 3000 protocol in some versions of Reflection. "And unlike WRQ, we remain independent. We still have HP 3000 knowledgeable developers and support people." The company's terminal emulator for 3000s, Minisoft Secure 92, has a scripting language called TermTalk.

11:13 AM in Homesteading, Migration | Permalink

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I had always believe in Reflection as the best emulator for HP3000. I did not know MiniSoft had NS/VT, which is required for our site, as we cannot run over Telnet.

The challenge is to see if Minisoft can provide most of Reflection's capabilities.

I did not know about Rumba.

I fear Reflection will lose identity in its new company, so maybe I should take another look at MiniSoft.

But there is another aspect to this, which is to find a way to put the HP3000 in an enclave, and not allow direct access to it from outside the organization. This is mainly because
HP3000 does not have smart card-based
authentication, although there are some worries vulnerabilities which could be developed against MPE, and there might be no software company making MPE patches to combat the vulnerability;
in the past these would be "NS" patches.

This would be similar in concept to the "Virtual Vault" solution that HP sold for protecting HP-UX systems.

I did discuss with NetIQ, part of Attachmate. The hope was an intermediary system that could process
two-factor logins (e.g. smart card and PIN,) then "allow" that user to pass through to an HP3000.

We never got to a solution, but I never lost interest in doing it.

Now the chance appears slimmer and dimmer with NetIQ being buried in
Micro Loss of Focus.

Posted by: Tim | Jul 1, 2015 3:45:03 PM

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