Provide access to legacy applications

Do you have a legacy, non-client/server application you want to let your users access? Are you unable to let users have command-line access to your Windows NT server without requiring them to be at the server console? Pragma Systems' InterAccess Terminal Server is a solution.

InterAccess Terminal Server is an NT-based service that monitors your COM ports and lets users log on to your NT server and obtain shell access, similar to a direct serial connection to a UNIX host. The product is ideal for accessing older, character-based applications that don't use client/server technology, such as an old order-entry or point-of-sale system. You can configure the product to operate with a modem to provide remote access to your NT system through a dial-up telephone line. Users can log on to your NT server simultaneously, making the product a multiuser, multitasking system.

The entry-level InterAccess Terminal Server product includes a Telnetd server, which lets users access the NT command line without a direct serial connection. Users connect to the NT server with a Telnet program such as Hilgraeve's HyperACCESS and obtain a command-line prompt through a network. A different NT server in your server's system configuration manages this connection.

When users connect to your NT system through InterAccess Terminal Server, the product displays a standard NT logon screen. Users must provide a username and a password. The system uses the cmd.exe command interpreter as the users' default shell, and their home directory (per NT's User Manager database) for their initial directory. You can also have the user log on with an alternative shell (e.g., a UNIX-based Korn shell replacement from a vendor such as Mortice Kern Systems—MKS). The product uses NT's standard security for users, so they can't access resources they don't have permission for in the ordinary NT environment.

InterAccess Terminal Server contains full support for the standard PC keyboard, including multiple character sets. The product supports the standard terminal emulations in the UNIX environment, including ANSI; Digital's VT100, VT220, VT320, and VT420 emulations; and Wyse 50 and Wyse 60.

Installing the product on my dual-Pentium II NT Server 4.0 system was simple. The test software arrived on three 3.5" disks; I ran the setup program and answered a few questions. With installation complete, I ran the configuration program to configure my COM ports. This Windows-based configuration program lets you determine how you want InterAccess Terminal Server to function. This program appears simple, but it gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility in configuring how the product operates. You configure four index tabs: TermSrv - Prompts, TermSrv - General Settings, TermSrv - User Management, and TermSrv - Group Access Management.

The TermSrv - Prompts tab yields a screen of prompts. You can configure a greeting message to appear when users connect, customize how you want your username and password prompts to appear, and indicate whether you want to prompt users for their terminal type.

With TermSrv - General Settings, you can configure the maximum number of connections and maximum number of logon attempts. You can also have the software automatically record all logon attempts to the event log. This option is a must-use feature for any production environment. In addition, you can set various security options so that only specific users or groups can access the computer.

The other two index tabs, TermSrv - User Management and TermSrv - Group Access Management, let you specify which users and groups can access your system through the terminal server. You can add, delete, and copy users' and groups' settings. When you add a user, you can specify a series of options, including User General Settings, Full Console Settings, Stream Mode Settings, Environmental Variables, and Graceful Termination.

I set up the software with the InterAccess Manager and the InterAccess Terminal Server configuration programs, as Screen 1 shows. This configuration took a few minutes to complete, and I immediately started working with the product. With my Toshiba Tecra 730XCDT, I used a HyperACCESS serial connection to my NT server to obtain a logon.

After logging on, I ran common command-line utilities, such as PKWARE's PKZIP. I also tested an old Clipper-compiled SBT Accounting Systems program (dBase engine). I used this accounting application because it relies heavily on screen painting to draw menus and input complex screens.

You determine the cost of InterAccess Terminal Server based on the number of COM ports you want to establish connections with. The product has a reasonable price tag and is an excellent choice for providing access to legacy applications. The product also includes a two-connection Telnetd server license, so users can connect with TCP/IP. You can download a 30-day evaluation version from the company's Web site.

InterAccess Terminal Server
Contact: Pragma Systems * 512-219-7270
Web: http://www.pragmasys.com
Price: Starts at $250
System Requirements: Windows NT Workstation 3.51 or NT Server 3.51 or later, 16MB of RAM (1MB per session), 2MB of hard disk space