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FTP Client Automation Module Description

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FTP Client Automation, FTP CA, is a comprehensive solution for automating FTP client file transfer traffic in the AS/400 environment. It provides all the functions and features needed to automate any FTP client file transfer transaction and the related pre- and post-processes.

FTP CA is an optional module of the Manycom Message product. It provides among the other things the following advanced features needed in automated FTP client operations:

  • possibility to create, maintain and control FTP transfer jobs from terminals and applications
  • 'continuous' regular transfer jobs starting automatically after specified time intervals
  • MCM transfer directory to save and show all transfer job requests
  • automatic execution of transfer jobs in batch mode
  • several transfer jobs can be running simultaneously with the same or different FTP servers
  • extensive transaction and error logging
  • execution of the transfer jobs is controlled phase by phase with return and status codes
  • possibility to give priorities to the transfer jobs
  • scheduling of transfer jobs
  • automatic retries with retry limits and intervals
  • possibility to attach and start pre- and post-process for the transfer jobs
  • extensive security controls

FTP CA transfer jobs can include all FTP client subcommands and functions provided by IBM in the OS/400 FTP client feature. Since this is not enough for automation purposes, special FTP CA script functions are provided facilitating other features, e.g. passing file, library and directory names as parameters, renaming files in many different ways, using file operations with generic file names (e.g. GET abc*), attaching pre- and post-processes before and after each file transfer transaction, and so on.

The flexible structure and rich functions of FTP CA together with the MCM Base and Advanced Automation modules make it possible to execute and automate practically all FTP client file transfer needs - even the most complicated ones - which you could encounter in today's eBusiness environment.

FTP CA always operates in the FTP client mode sending and retrieving files with the remote FTP servers. This means that FTP CA establishes the connection, and via the OS/400 client feature requests FTP 'services' from the FTP server with the FTP subcommands such as PUT, GET, DIR, RENAME, etc. See the following figure.

FTP CA Logic

Notice, that if your local AS/400 needs to be the FTP server, which is called from the remote FTP clients, you should select another module of MCM, the FTP Server Automation, FTP SA, which makes it possible to secure and automate the FTP server operations. FTP CA and FTP SA together provide an extensive solution for automating all kinds of FTP file transfer transactions.

Features of the Advanced Automation, Data File Conversion and Encryption modules can be used with both FTP modules in order to complement the solution. For more information about automating the FTP server operations, see the corresponding module description MCM FTP Server Automation.

Compatible with all standard FTP servers

FTP CA operates via the FTP client feature provided by IBM in the OS/400. This allows communicating with any standard FTP server whether it runs in AS/400, AIX, UNIX, Windows, IBM host or other system. FTP CA doesn't set any special requirements for the FTP server or communication connection type. The TCP/IP connections are configured in the ordinary manner.

MCM transfer jobs

In order to send or retrieve files, you need to define and create a MCM transfer job (request). The transfer job is saved in the MCM transfer directory.

MCM transfer jobs can be created both from the 5250 terminals with the MCM user interface displays, and from user applications (batch or interactive) via the FTP Client API.

Transfer jobs can be created also automatically (without the need to add API calls to the applications) by allowing the MCM Advanced Automation module polling the desired libraries, directories and output queues to identify the files to send out. When the specified file is found, a transfer job request is created automatically with the pre-configured parameter values. For more information, see the MCM Advanced Automation module description.

For more information about the MCM transfer jobs, transfer directory and other basic concepts of MCM, see the MCM Base module description.

Normal jobs and continuous jobs

You can create both normal (one-time) and continuous (regular) transfer jobs. A normal job is executed only once (with specified retries in error situations), but a continuous job is started and executed automatically by MCM after the specified time interval has elapsed. For example, you can define a continuous transfer job to send a named file or files (or files starting with letters abc*) every 15 minutes or once in a day to the desired FTP server.

Background operations in batch mode

FTP CA takes care of execution of the MCM transfer jobs created from the user interface screens or via the FTP Client API. FTP CA starts the transfer jobs running in batch mode as background tasks in the specific MCM subsystem. The MCM subsystem and monitors are stopped and started automatically, and they are active only in configured weekdays and at specified times.

An example of a FTP CA transfer job

After the system administrator with proper authorities has once pre-configured certain base settings through the configuration menu such as the server name, IP address of the server, MCM user ID allowed to use MCM and the specified server definition, FTP user ID and password to login to the specified server, script files for specifying the remote and local file renaming rules and for attaching pre- and post-processes to the transfer job, the defined MCM user ID, which can be a 5250 terminal user or an application can easily create a FTP CA transfer job, which

  1. automatically logs in to the remote FTP server (e.g. Windows NT or UNIX) with the defined FTP user ID and password at the specified time,
  2. retrieves the desired file(s) from the desired remote directory to the desired local directory or library (the file name can be generic, e.g. abc*),
  3. renames those remote files, which were transferred successfully to other names along the pre-configured remote renaming rule, or deletes or copies them to another directory in the remote system, or starts the defined post-process in the remote system with a remote command, or a combination of the above options,
  4. renames the retrieved local files according to the pre-configured local renaming rule,
  5. and finally starts the defined post-process in the local AS/400 as an immediate interactive job or with a submitted CL command as a scheduled batch job; the post-process can run any process needed to handle the received files, and among other things include a call to the FTP client API in order to create automatically a new transfer job, which could for instance send (forward) the retrieved files to a second FTP server in a third system, or call the MCM Email API in order to create a new transfer job to send an Internet email message to the system operator telling that the FTP transfer job ended successfully, or call both APIs, if needed.

The variations are practically unlimited. Notice, that the success of the execution of the transfer job is checked in every phase, for instance after each FTP client subcommand and call to the local pre- and post-processes. A 'checkpoint' message can be sent to an operator in any phase of the job, if needed.

Status controls and logs

Extensive status controls and logging functions are the most important features of the automated systems. The users and operators must have an easy way to control and follow the execution of all transactions.

MCM controls the execution of the transfer job with the internal MCM status codes and FTP subcommand return codes. The job continues only if the previous phase was successful. MCM also logs all transactions, and sends messages to the operator when needed. The transfer job descriptions and status data are maintained in the MCM transfer directory for viewing any time during or after the execution of the jobs.

All created transfer jobs get a unique job ID, and they are saved in the MCM transfer directory for the pre-defined time. Authorized Manycom users can control (view, change, copy and delete the job descriptions, and hold, release and restart) the transfer jobs and show their status data and log entries on the MCM displays. User applications can retrieve the status data of the created transfer jobs by calling the MCM Status API with the given unique transfer job ID.

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