Effectively distribute software over unreliable network links

\[Editor's Note: Sterling Commerce purchased XcelleNet. RemoteWare Express is now available as CONNECT:Manage.\]

XcelleNet's RemoteWare Express lets you effectively distribute software over slow links to remote users connected to your company's intranet. RemoteWare Express is Web-based, data-distribution software designed for environments with low-bandwidth, unreliable connections. The software's differential download technology, which transfers only new or changed data, optimizes the use of low-bandwidth links. The software includes a checkpoint system that guarantees reliable completion of transfers, even if they are interrupted. RemoteWare Express has a built-in encryption feature that you can use to protect sensitive information during the transfer process.

Installing and configuring RemoteWare Express is simple. However, there is a slight learning curve before you become proficient with the software.

To install the software, just insert the CD-ROM and answer a few questions. I installed the software on my Micronics-based, dual-Pentium II system that runs Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0.

The Main Switchboard
RemoteWare Express processes exchanges through a centralized transmitter--the software's main switchboard RemoteWare.htmlapplication. From this application, you can select several options. These options are the Channel Administrator, several supporting programs that let you view log files, and the transmitter subsystem responsible for delivering the software to remote systems. The Channel Administrator lets you manage the Software Manager, Document Manager, and Session Manager channels that are available to remote users. Screen 1 shows a typical Channel Administrator session. The Software Manager channel delivers and installs software. The Document Manager channel lets you distribute raw files to remote computers and specify files by filename or directory. The Session Manager channel lets you execute a script on a remote system.

You will use the Software Manager and Session Manager channels for most applications. The Software Manager channel is the software's delivery and installation engine. Using a wizard, you can create a channel to deliver the software. The systems administrator then publishes the channel for remote users to access. You can configure software packages with a push status so that they are automatically forced out to users. You can also configure software packages with a pull status so that they're available to users who want to download them. An automatic-installation option eliminates the need for users to interact with the installation process. Using the Software Manager can be difficult, especially if you're attempting to distribute a package that doesn't use a setup program. RemoteWare Express lets you manually specify a list of files to install and distribute to remote systems.

The Session Manager channel lets you create scripts that execute on your remote systems. Each Session Manager channel consists of one or more worklist or sendlist objects. A worklist object is a list of RemoteWare Express scripting commands. Sendlist objects are lists of files that the software transmits to the remote system. You can create powerful scripts if you group worklist and sendlist objects together.

The Channels I Built
When the installation is complete, you're ready to begin building channels for remote systems to access. I created one Software Manager, one Document Manager, and one Session Manager channel. Using my Software Manager channel, I distributed a copy of NotePage 32 to the users on a remote system. On my Document Manager channel, I installed a copy of a Microsoft Access database and a series of Word documents. Using my Session Manager channel, I created a script to perform several disk and Registry operations on the remote system. After I published the channels, each one executed successfully on my client system.

The server and client license fees for RemoteWare Express are based on the number of channel types you implement. The software performs an important function; however, you'll pay a high price for the service.

RemoteWare Express
Contact: XcelleNet * 770-804-8100
Sterling Commerce * 800-292-0104
Web: http://www.xcellenet.com
http://www.sterlingcommerce.com Price: Server: $5000 per channel ($13,500 for all three channels)
Client: $50 per channel ($135 for all three channels)
System Requirements: Windows NT Server 4.0