Why you should consider changing your mainframe session manager

Dec 12, 2022

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As pretty much every developer knows, session management software provides an essential service for the mainframe. Powering away in the background, it allows users to access all of their applications on the mainframe quickly and easily, with barely a backward glance from those tasked with managing it. Although generally known for its reliability, there may come a time when you need to look for an alternative.

There could be a number of reasons why it’s a good idea to update your session manager. Changes in organizational structure due to mergers and acquisitions may mean your IT estate increases in size and your existing session management software is no longer up to the job. The functionality that you have always relied on starts to wane, or it may be that the costs are no longer justifiable. You could also find yourself in a situation where your supplier withdraws their support, meaning you’re vulnerable if things start to go wrong. If any of these scenarios look like they could become reality, it may be time to consider changing your mainframe session manager.

What is a session manager?

In short, a session manager makes logging into mainframe applications much easier. Once you’re signed in to the session manager it essentially acts as ALT+TAB on the mainframe, allowing you to switch effortlessly between active applications, without needing to log in to and out of each one. This means you can jump straight back into the application at the same point where you left off. This occurs through the use of escape keys or escape commands. There are other benefits too, such as being able to sign in once and then automatically log onto your applications and it’s also a great entry point for a multi-factor authentication gateway into the mainframe.

It’s easy to change your session manager

As with most mainframe products, there is sometimes inertia to change things if they appear to be working well and there can also be reluctance to make changes if the perceived effort and time involved is high, especially as some migrations have been known to take over two years. However, it’s not as complicated as it looks. For example, did you know that some session managers actually share a very similar code base, despite having different product names? This makes switching products incredibly easy and the change can be completed in a few days rather than taking months. It’s worth checking the session manager copyright message or your JES Message Log to see if you can find the originating product owner – you may be surprised!

What to look for in a new session manager

When it comes to choosing a new session manager, there are some key questions to ask:

  1. How easy is it to transition to the new software? It’s important the vendor has experience of moving users to their session manager and that they can actively assist in the process. You should also find out how established the product is – a good session manager will have thousands of users and be used by many major global organizations.
  2. Does the product have a long-term road map that extends well into the future? Is the vendor committed to supporting its development on an ongoing basis and are there regular upgrades and new features built into the development?
  3. Is it a strong technical solution? It should be robust, scalable and easy to use as well as having the functionality to help you modernize your mainframe access with new features such as a web interface, reporting functionality and pass tickets.
  4. Is the product customizable? Does it have programmable exits and is there the flexibility to change the look and feel so there are no changes for users and no new system to learn, meaning no loss of productivity.

Macro 4’s session manager, Tubes fulfills all of these criteria and more and is a 100% compatible replacement for IBM Session Manager. We have recently helped customers transition their mainframe user base from IBM Session Manager and also NetView Access Services (NVAS) session managers, as well as advising on conversions from MultSess.

Macro 4 has a team of Tubes support experts ready to assist with your session manager replacement project and offer their experience and guidance to help your project complete successfully. Macro 4’s company policy is to never sunset a product so you will have peace of mind that our session manager software is here to stay.

Category: Mainframe
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