Microsoft Host Integration Server (HIS) is a powerful tool you can use to get your mainframe and/or midrange computers working in harmony with your Windows network. However, installing and deploying HIS can be a complex task, particularly if you need to install multiple servers for clustering, load balancing, or simply to provide access to several host servers. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll describe how to install and configure HIS.

Host Integration Server ties your platforms together

Microsoft Host Integration Server (HIS) enables organizations to serve data from a variety of host server platforms to clients running Windows and other platforms. HIS also provides the tools you need to integrate that data into Web applications and LAN- or WAN-based client/server applications. By enabling this type of integration, HIS eliminates the need for businesses to migrate away from their host servers to other platforms and applications, which can mean a huge savings in capital and development costs. Because HIS is so complex and handles so many different mainframe/mini combinations, it takes a lot of planning and preparation to deploy. I can’t cover all of the possible issues you’ll face in this Daily Drill Down, so you should use it as a roadmap to follow when planning your own deployment. To find out more, see the Daily Drill Downs “Host Integration Server can bridge the gap between Windows servers and large systems” and “Don’t forget infrastructure when planning to deploy Host Integration Server.”

Preparing the servers
The first step in deploying HIS is to lay the groundwork for the actual installation. Gather all of the information possible about your host servers and clients. You can then obtain, install, and test the hardware as needed, and start prepping the servers for installation. You’ll need to decide where the server will reside in the domain(s) and the type of deployment (centralized, distributed, or mixed) you’ll use for HIS. You can then install the desired Windows Server platform on each server and set the servers up in their respective domains.

As you set up your servers, keep in mind that each HIS server resides in a particular HIS subdomain and fulfills a specific role. Each subdomain comprises up to 15 HIS servers, with one server in each subdomain functioning as the primary server. Others in the subdomain can function as backup servers or member servers. Identify the server that will act as the primary and those that will act as backups. The primary server will hold the subdomain configuration data, and the backup servers will hold read-only copies of the configuration data. Member servers service requests from clients, but they don’t maintain configuration data.

Another step to take prior to installing HIS is to install the additional software HIS will need to do its job. The Data Integration features of HIS require Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) 2.5 or later. It’s a good idea to install the latest version, which you can obtain from Microsoft’s Web site. If you’ve installed SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine on the server, you already have MDAC 2.6 and won’t have to install MDAC again, unless you want to install a newer version.

HIS also has other software requirements. For example, remote administration requires the Remote Access Service, which is a component of Windows NT Server, Windows 2000 Server, and Windows .NET Server. HIS also requires the MSMQ component, MMC 1.2 or later, MTS 2.0 or later, and Internet Explorer 5.5 or later. There are a handful of other software requirements, depending on the components you plan to use. Check the HIS documentation to identify any other components you’ll need to install on your servers before you install HIS.

Installing HIS
You can run HIS Setup from the HIS CD or from the downloaded file set if you’re using the evaluation version. HIS Setup works just like most installation wizards you’re familiar with. During installation, Setup prompts you for a handful of items in addition to your name, organization, and the HIS components you want to install. In particular, you’ll need to provide the user account credentials that HIS will use for authentication of its services. You can use the System account or create an account specifically for HIS. You must also specify an account if you’re using Host Security, and the account must have administrator privileges.

After installation is complete, Setup runs the SNA Resource Location Wizard, which helps you set up the server’s SNA configuration. Through the wizard you’ll specify the SNA subdomain and server role. If you specify the server as a backup server, you must enter the name of the primary server for the subdomain.

The wizard also lets you configure the HIS server to integrate with the Active Directory for Windows 2000 and .NET Server domains. Clients can use either sponsor connections or the AD to locate and communicate with HIS servers and identify available resources. If you go the AD route, each HIS server must reside in an Organizational Unit (OU). You can have multiple HIS servers in one OU, but all of the servers must be in the same SNA subdomain. An OU can’t contain more than one subdomain, nor can a subdomain span multiple OUs. The wizard lets you specify the relative path to the OU for the server or choose to allow Setup to create an OU on its own.

The final step the wizard requires is the selection of protocols for the server. You can choose from TCP/IP, Named Pipes, Banyan VINES, IPX/SPX, and/or AppleTalk. The desired protocol must be installed on the server prior to running the wizard. If you choose IPX/SPX, you must choose between using the Bindery and using NDS. Using NDS also requires you to specify the tree name and context name. If you choose Banyan VINES, you must specify the StreetTalk group name. You must restart the SNABASE service for the changes to take effect, but restarting the server is not required.

Configuring link services and data connections
Before setting up data connections between the host servers and HIS servers, take time to analyze and address all of the potential compatibility and configuration issues between your host servers and HIS servers. For example, mainframe connections typically require you to match the IDBLK and IDNUM values in the physical unit (PU) definition to the Remote Node ID on the HIS servers, and also to match the basic transmission unit (BTU) length between the mainframe and HIS servers. In addition to matching the BTU value for AS/400 systems, you must also match the local and remote control point names with those on the HIS servers. Check and adjust other network settings as well, such as address settings for 802.2, X.25, and channel connections and other hardware settings for SDLC and X.25 hardware. Use the planning forms provided in the HIS Installation And Configuration Help file to document network addresses, hardware settings, and other connectivity settings, as well as authentication credentials and settings.

The SNA Manager, which Setup installs when you install HIS, is your management point for configuring connections between the host servers and HIS servers. You can install and run the SNA Manager on any Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows .NET platform. SNA Manager also supports remote management. To start SNA Manager, click Start | Programs | Host Integration Server | SNA Manager.

To start the configuration process, open the SNA subdomain you want to manage by right-clicking Microsoft SNA Manager in the left pane and choosing Open SubDomain. The resulting dialog box lets you choose the local subdomain, a remote SNA subdomain, or an offline configuration file to edit.

With the subdomain open, you can expand the Servers branch, right-click a server, and choose Properties to configure a handful of properties on the target HIS server. For example, you can rename the server or access the SNA Resource Location Wizard to change the server’s role, protocols, and Active Directory integration.

Next you’ll need to set the SNA service properties. Right-click SNA Service and choose Properties, and then set the network name and control point name for the service.

A good next step is to create link services. In the SNA Manager, right-click the server and choose New | Link Service. The resulting dialog box lets you choose between DEMO SDLC Link Service, Distributed Link Service, and DLC 802.2 Link Service. Choose the required link type and click Add, and then specify the properties for the link (which vary by type). Be sure to install the DLC driver on the server before creating a DLC link.

You configure a link service when you add it, but you can also modify the configuration after the fact. Each of the link services appears in the Servers\<server>\Link Services branch in the SNA Manager. Expand the branch, right-click a service, and choose Properties to open its property sheet and configure the service.

With the required link services in place, you can turn your attention to creating individual resource connections between the HIS servers and host servers. The SNA Manager provides wizards to help you create 3270 and 5250 connections, but you can also create these connections manually, if you prefer. Right-click the server and choose All Tasks | 3270 Wizard or AS/400 Wizard. The wizard prompts you for the information it needs to create the connection. If you prefer the manual method, simply right-click the SNA Service branch and choose New, followed by the service type. Use the resulting tabbed dialog box to specify the settings for the connection.

You should set up logical unit (LU) pools before creating individual LUs if you intend to use them. You can create the LUs before creating the pools, but creating the pools first will help you fine-tune your pool strategy before you begin creating the LUs. To create a pool, right-click the Pools container in the SNA Manager and choose New, followed by the desired pool type. LUA LU pools and downstream LU pools require only a pool name and optional comment. The 3270 Display LU pools require a display model selection. You also can specify that the pool contain display LUs with associated printers. If you select this option, HIS will treat the display LUs in the pool as if they all have associated printer LUs. This capability makes it easier to support applications that expect a particular association between a display LU and printer LU.

Next, turn your attention to creating LUs. In the SNA Manager, open the Servers\<server>\SNA Service\Connections branch. Right-click a connection and choose New, followed by the type of LU to create. You can create display, printer, application, and downstream LUs. To associate a printer with a display LU, right-click the LU, choose Properties, and use the Associated Printer tab to select the printer LU.

You can add the LUs to a pool in one of two ways. The easiest way is to simply drag the LU to the desired pool in the Pools container. You can also right-click the LU and choose Assign Pool, select the pool from the resulting list, and click OK. With that accomplished, use the SNA Service\Local APPC LUs and SNA Service\Remote APPC LUs containers to create local and remote APPC LUs as needed.

The remaining containers under the server’s branch in the SNA Manager include Shared Folders, Print Service, TN5250, and TN3270. Use the Shared Folders branch to create a connection to shared folders on an AS/400 server. This will enable you to set up a share on the HIS server that functions as a gateway for users to the remote shared folder. Use the Print Service container to create 3270 and APPC printer sessions. The TN3270 and TN5250 containers are the places to configure the TN3270 and TN5250 service properties, respectively. Both containers also give you access to wizards for creating connections, local LUs, and remote LUs. Right-click a container and choose All Tasks, and then choose the action you want to perform.

With connections and resources defined, you can turn your efforts toward users. You’ll use the SNA Manager to configure users to access HIS resources. Open the SNA Manager, expand the subdomain, and open the Configure Users container. Right-click the container and choose New | User. Select a user or group and click OK. Next, right-click a user or group and choose Assign LUs. Select one or more LUs (Ctrl+ or Shift+Click for multiple LUs) and click OK. Then, expand the Servers\<server>\SNA Service\Remote APPC LUs container, right-click a remote LU, and choose Assign To User. Select a user from the dialog box and click OK.

Installing client software
You have a handful of options for deploying client software. The most direct method is to run the HIS Client installer package from the client. You can place the package on a network share accessible to your users and let them install it when needed. However, you may prefer a more managed approach. If so, you can use SMS to deploy the client software or assign the client through group policy. Both of these approaches provide automated installation without the need for a user to initiate the client installation.

Another option is to use the Web Client, which is available by download from Microsoft’s HIS Web site. The Web Client enables users to connect to a Web server with a Web browser and install the client software from a Web page. To use the Web Client, extract the contents of the Hiwebcli.exe distribution file to a folder on your Web server. Create a virtual directory that points to the folder, and set the default document for the directory to Default.htm. Then edit the 3270full.htm and 5250full.htm files in the directory to match the SNA configuration in your organization.

The needed changes are documented in the Web Client Help file, which resides in the Web Client folder that is created when you extract the files from the compressed archive. You can create multiple virtual directories with different versions of the files to tailor the installation to users with different requirements. Users can then point their browsers to the virtual directory you’ve designated for them, click on the appropriate option, and have the client installed for them across the network.

Moving beyond the basics
There are other steps you’ll need to take as well, such as setting up multiple servers to provide load balancing and hot backup, backing up configuration data, testing connections, and so on. HIS is certainly a complex product, so we can’t cover every nook and cranny here. The HIS Help documentation is a good place to start learning more about HIS, but you might also want to pick up a copy of the Microsoft Host Integration Server 2000 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press, which offers over 1,000 pages on HIS architecture, deployment planning, installation, configuration, troubleshooting, and more.