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Implementing multiprotocol solutions with HP OpenVMS networking

Let your business grow with HP networking solutions

Your OpenVMS network has been a mainstay of your business for years. You rely on it daily for crucial applications. But with the pace and type of changes occurring in business and technology, you need to be able to do more — and do it better and faster.

Now key networking software from HP enables you to adopt the newest directions in computing while preserving all your existing capabilities and investments. Without undue stress or expense, HP networking solutions let you position your network for continued growth and success.

Critical directions in computing

It often seems that the axiom “nothing is so constant as change” must have been authored by the computing industry. The pace of change is swift, and, unfortunately, failure to keep up can exact a high price.

Today, business success depends on the quality of the information technology that supports it. An inability to keep current in technology negatively impacts business performance.

One critical new direction in today's computing — a direction necessary for business success — is the Internet. This collection of networks is increasingly used to buy and sell products, search for information, and act as a communications vehicle for sending electronic mail outside the enterprise. Exploding onto the larger business scene from its roots in government and education, access to the Internet network of networks depends on the use of TCP/IP.

TCP/IP plays a key role in an important new direction in computing — the move to multitier client/server computing, where an application is divided into either two or three logical parts or tiers.

In the two-tier model, data management is performed on the top tier, and business logic and presentation is handled by the bottom tier. In the three-tier model, data management is performed in the top tier, business logic in the middle tier, and presentation in the bottom tier. Two-tier models generally work best for simple applications; for large, heterogeneous applications that are expected to change over time, industry analysts recommend the three-tier model.

And in both models, communication between the PC desktop tier and the tier above it must take place via the networking protocol that the desktop understands — TCP/IP.

Existing HP OpenVMS networks — the asset base

Historically, OpenVMS networking software has provided a solid base on which to run important applications. DECnet, the enterprise networking mainstay of most OpenVMS customers, has the same robust, secure, high-performance, high-availability standards of OpenVMS. Consequently, OpenVMS customers today have a large portfolio of distributed applications written for DECnet — including business-critical, 24x365 applications. This portfolio of applications represents a significant investment of time and resources; it is an important business asset.

However, traditional OpenVMS applications were not written to run over TCP/IP. In keeping with the proprietary nature of networking at the time, they were written to support the DECnet protocol, NSP. Networks that support only the proprietary DECnet protocols are known as DECnet Phase IV networks.

Getting there from here

Given the importance of TCP/IP for current and future computing capabilities, and the fact that DECnet Phase IV runs only the proprietary DECnet protocols, OpenVMS customers have some key choices to make. They must balance the need to embrace new technology with the need to protect existing investments. Let's look at several available options.

Maintain two networks

Customers electing this option would retain DECnet Phase IV for running DECnet applications and build another environment for running TCP/IP. They would maintain separate DECnet and TCP/IP infrastructures. The problem with this choice is that it is expensive and time-consuming to sustain two environments that cannot talk to each other.

Abandon DECnet immediately and move to TCP/IP

The problem with this solution is its immediacy, inflexibility, and expense. It requires that an entire application portfolio and network be restructured under pressure. It does not offer the option to port to TCP/IP when information technology resources and business concerns can support porting. Nor does it offer an opportunity to retain the secure, “DECnet style”, high-availability, business-critical environment necessary for certain types of applications.

Live without TCP/IP

While the simplest to implement, this solution is not a real option for most customers.

Move to a single IP backbone over which both DECnet and TCP/IP can run

This solution eliminates the need to implement multiprotocol backbones for multiple protocols. Both DECnet and TCP/IP applications can run over the same backbone. Network managers can adopt a single protocol network such as TCP/IP without forcing the end systems to do the same.

This is the HP DECnet-Plus solution.

The "Plus" in HP DECnet-Plus

The name sums it up. DECnet-Plus provides all the capabilities and advantages of DECnet Phase IV, plus more:

  • Plus TCP/IP capabilities
  • Plus OSI capabilities
  • Plus DECnet enhancements

These advantages make DECnet-Plus a unique solution for OpenVMS customers. It is a solution that protects all existing investments in systems, applications, and training, while at the same time providing access to important new technology. DECnet-Plus serves as a bridge between the past and the future.

Give up nothing

DECnet-Plus provides the full functionality of DECnet Phase IV, including host-based routing and other popular features of Phase IV. DECnet Phase IV applications can run, unchanged, in DECnet-Plus. Because DECnet-Plus (known at one time as “DECnet/OSI”) is Phase V of DECnet, backward compatibility ensures that Phase IV and DECnet-Plus systems can coexist in the same network.

Open, multiprotocol networking

In addition to protecting DECnet capabilities, DECnet-Plus also embraces the transports now predominant in the marketplace.

DECnet-Plus does this by breaking the traditional restrictions that have tied network applications to specific protocol suites. Adherence to the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) RFC 1859 and 1006 industry standards provides the ability to run DECnet and OSI applications over TCP/IP.

The DECnet-Plus approach, unlike some other solutions, does not “tunnel” DECnet lower layer protocols through the target protocol. Rather, the normal functions of a transport — for example, flow control and error recovery — and the underlying routing are used directly by the upper DECnet protocol layers. As a consequence, there is no additional performance overhead with running DECnet over TCP/IP or OSI over TCP/IP, unlike tunneling solutions.

The DECnet-Plus versatility of application and protocol facilitates the transparent networking of information and ideas. Applications that ran over DECnet Phase IV can now run over DECnet, OSI, TCP/IP, or any combination thereof. OSI applications can run over OSI, TCP/IP, or a combination of those transports. TCP/IP applications can run over TCP/IP.

TCP/IP capabilities

To run DECnet applications unchanged over TCP/IP, OpenVMS customers combine a TCP/IP implementation with their DECnet-Plus solution. The TCP/IP product can be any industry-standard, OpenVMS-based TCP/IP implementation such as HP TCP/IP Services for OpenVMS.

By using a TCP/IP implementation on OpenVMS, DECnet-Plus customers preserve the secure, high-performance, enterprise-computing environment that OpenVMS provides.

And selection of HP's TCP/IP implementation for OpenVMS — HP TCP/IP Services for OpenVMS — further ensures that the customers' source for TCP/IP:

  • Is one with whom they already have an existing relationship
  • Has been, and is, committed to Peer to Peer Networking
  • Is well-positioned to integrate TCP/IP features into OpenVMS
  • Is strongly committed to the future of OpenVMS and HP TCP/IP Services for OpenVMS
  • Has fully integrated the product into HP's cluster capabilities, ensuring high availability services
  • Is one that enables OpenVMS systems to fully participate in Internet and Intranet environments

Key product features

  • Post Office Protocol (POP), a mail repository that ensures mail is accepted even when a PC is turned off so you don't miss those important mail messages
  • SNMP Extensible agent (eSNMP) which provides support for Network Management, allowing more centralized control of the computing environment
  • Finger Utility that displays information about users on the system, providing better resource monitoring and management
  • VIEW, an FTP command which allows users to display the contents of a file to their current output device. This allows readable access of your important data.
  • File naming, an NFS server enhancement that allows users to create files and directories in an OpenVMS file system using names that do not conform to OpenVMS file-naming rules. There is no need to rename your files
  • Support for XQP+ to improve NFS server performance, particularly when handling heavy loads

Multitier client/server computing capabilities

The multiprotocol capabilities of DECnet-Plus also facilitate communication within a multitier OpenVMS and Microsoft Windows client/server computing model.

The natural affinity between OpenVMS and Microsoft Windows enables these operating systems to work together to create a seamless three-tier client/server environment. OpenVMS manages data in the top tier, business logic is performed in the middle tier on either OpenVMS or Microsoft Windows, and the desktop presentation is handled in the bottom tier by Microsoft Windows.

Applications can be developed once, in Microsoft Windows, for deployment across a mixed OpenVMS and Microsoft Windows environment. The entire environment can be managed from OpenVMS.

networking hierarchy

In a PC environment in which there is both DECnet and TCP/IP connectivity, the addition of HP PATHWORKS 32 host connectivity software allows deployment of the client end of an application on a Microsoft Windows system. PATHWORKS 32 permits interoperation between that client application and an application on an OpenVMS host that utilizes a DECnet stack. This capability eliminates the need to rewrite the OpenVMS application for use with a TCP/IP stack.

The use of PATHWORKS 32 in conjunction with DECnet-Plus and HP TCP/IP Services for OpenVMS extends connectivity from a mixed DECnet and TCP/IP network to a Windows NT environment. DECnet-based applications can run on Microsoft clients independently of where systems are located in the network.

OSI capabilities

HP's adherence to industry standards ensures that OpenVMS systems can participate with systems from other vendors and with other HP systems around the world. DECnet-Plus continues in that tradition.

OSI applications such as FTAM (File Transfer and Management), VT (Virtual Terminal), and X.500 messaging allow OpenVMS to interoperate with other operating systems. HP and user-written applications that utilize these standards are in wide use in Europe, and in certain industries. As corporate networks move to TCP/IP, these applications will continue to run, unchanged, using DECnet-Plus.

WAN integration

DECnet-Plus integrates seamlessly with X.25 Packet Switched Data Networks and IBM SNA networks, enabling users to send and receive information using DECnet, TCP/IP, or OSI transports across these wide area networks (WANs).

When OpenVMS systems act as hosts for transporting DECnet applications over TCP/IP in a wide area network, network infrastructure requires IP routers between the host and the leased line. DECnet-Plus accommodates both host-based routing and dedicated routers.

LAN coexistence

DECnet-Plus also coexists with local area networks (LANs) to enable transportation of DECnet, TCP/IP, and OSI applications into and out of multivendor LANs.

DECnet enhancements

Customers in certain industries may not be particularly anxious to add Internet access to their network capabilities. For example, bank networks engaged in electronic fund transfers may wish to avoid the security or reliability risks generally associated with today's Internet, while keeping their options open should matters change in the future.

Such customers need not act immediately upon the TCP/IP capabilities DECnet-Plus makes possible. However, they too will realize immediate benefits from DECnet-Plus, because the software also includes features to enhance the running and management of DECnet applications themselves.

DECnet-Plus enhancements include:

Increased address space

DECnet-Plus provides a virtually unlimited number of nodes, in contrast to the limit of approximately 65,000 provided by DECnet Phase IV. Multiple naming services — large local file, DECdns, and DNS/Bind — can be used simultaneously.

Flexible configuration options

DECnet-Plus includes a system configuration tool which provides several different configuration options, such as the fast option for Phase IV upgrades, a basic option for simple configurations, and an advanced option for more complex configurations.

Simplified network management

DECnet-Plus utilizes the Network Control Language (NCL) to manage the network. NCL commands may be issued at the command line interface, or the NCL graphical user interface tool, a Motif-based window interface, can be used. The NCL Emulator tools is provided to manage remote Phase IV nodes.

Improved troubleshooting and monitoring

The DECnet-Plus Common Trace Facility is similar to having a protocol analyzer built into the network.

Improved security

DECnet-Plus provides for node verification, counters, and proxy accounts at remote nodes. Further, access rights within the DECdns naming service can be used to control viewing, changing and removing user data, and changing access control information.

Satisfies specialized needs of certain customers

DECnet-Plus includes Phase IV host-based routing functionality so that a single system can perform both routing and general processing. DECnet-Plus also supports multicircuit end systems so that the same end system can belong to both a DECnet and a TCP/IP network. In situations where business acquisitions result in combining networks, DECnet over TCP/IP avoids the need to reassign DECnet addresses.

Upgrade tools

DECnet-Plus provides many tools to assist in upgrading from DECnet Phase IV to DECnet-Plus. The DECnet Register tool helps manage node names and addressing information. The DECnet Migrate tool helps collect information about the network configuration, convert Phase IV NCP command files to NCL scripts, and set up routing between Phase IV and Phase V areas. A database conversion tool helps convert the Phase IV database to NCL scripts at configuration time.

A superior networking solution

HP's networking software products address the multiplicity of needs that concern businesses today. These robust products not only preserve legacy applications but also facilitate the addition of the new technologies.

DECnet-Plus is a stepping-stone in positioning your network for continued success. By enabling the use of DECnet applications over TCP/IP, DECnet-Plus extends the usefulness of these applications.

For applications that need Internet access or a three-tier client/server environment, DECnet-Plus works in conjunction with other software elements to provide flexible networking solutions. DECnet-Plus, HP TCP/IP Services for OpenVMS, and PATHWORKS 32 extend your network reach in open, multiprotocol, multivendor environments to bring legacy applications forward into a new style and era of computing.

DECnet-Plus offers you a superior networking opportunity — an opportunity to preserve and enhance all your existing investments in applications, systems, and training, while at the same time providing the ability to add crucial new capabilities where required. DECnet-Plus is a unique, low risk/high reward opportunity to grow your network successfully.

Additional Information

For more information on DECnet-Plus and other HP networking products, see:

» HP DECnet-Plus software product description (SPD)
» HP DECnet-Plus Product Brief
» HP DECnet-Plus for OpenVMS Introduction and User's Guide
» HP TCP/IP Services software product description (SPD)

Online information may be found on the HP OpenVMS website.