HOB Solutions at Work
Secure Remote Access to Windows, WTS and iSeries Over the Internet for Blum Holiday-Tours GmbH
For over forty years Blum Holiday-Tours GmbH, based in the Rheine area of Germany (Ludwigshafen – Mannheim – Heidelberg) has been working in the tourism business. All of their products and services are focused on providing their customers with real value. A communications system that serves all areas, especially providing information to employees, helps make all goals, services, wrong turns and successes transparent. In addition to their own 16 branch offices, Blum's service provider data center also serves numerous other travel agencies. The secure connection to the programs in the central office was created using software from HOB.
The availability and booking system runs on an IBM server (iSeries/AS400). A total of 60 users in the company's own offices and and those of their partners make up to 15,000 queries or bookings a day. An additional 25,000 queries per day come in over the various Websites. Before the new system was implemented, local applications were used, an IPsec VPN solution was used for some of these applications. The expansion of Blum's business activities to providing data center services was another reason to change their IT structure. As in many of their offices there was a lack of IT Know-how, and Blum's decision makers saw the on-site use of specialists in their own or their partners' offices as outdated, a Web-to-Host and SSL VPN security solution was taken into consideration.
The HOB solution required no special software to be installed on the office PCs; a conventional browser is all that was needed. The users connect over the Internet to the central office, whereby the connection is encrypted with 256 bits. The iSeries machine serves as the gateway to the tourist offices', e.g., TUI's, mainframe computers. The booking system is accessed over a Web-to-host terminal emulation. Blum decided to deploy Microsoft's Windows Terminal Server technology. Encrypted access, both to the iSeries as well as the Terminal Server, is provided by the HOB software HOB RD VPN, an SSL VPN solution with HOB applications for RDP, 3270, 5250, etc.
Blum thus implemented three types of access: to the Windows Terminal Server, to the iSeries and to their desktop PCs over the Internet. HOB RD VPN contains all the applications needed for this. The administrator centrally manages all software programs and user configurations. Updates are input to the servers and instantly available for all users, whether in Blum's offices or in those of their partners. The 256-bit encryption, together with the HOB RD VPN authentications mechanism ensures security. Blum's employees and those of the partner travel agencies together use the availability and booking system on the iSeries. The applications on the Windows Terminal Server, e.g., Office, are only available to Blum's employees. Management uses the HOB Desktop-on-Demand function to access desktop PCs in the offices from any location in the world having an Internet connection. With this function, one can remotely switch a computer on and off. For all types of acces, the user needs only to click a hyperlink and enter his or her authentication information (login credentials). They are then connected to the desired application and can work with it just as well as if it were installed locally.
Mr. Zimmermann, general manager at Blum, stated: "The use of this solution results in an enormous increase of efficiency for the entire enterprise. The expansion to being a data center service provider for other travel agencies would not have been possible without the central administration and configuration. The reason we decided for the HOB solution way, besides that it covered all our needs, also the easy installation. All of the offices concerned could start using it with no difficulties."