Advantages of upgrading to PathFinder 5.0 for existing users
This document gives a brief outline of the major changes between the 4.2 and 5.0 releases of PathFinder – in which a large number of both major and minor changes have been made. For more details on each issue, please check the release notes that accompany PathFinder 5.0. If you are not an existing PathFinder user, you may find more information in the main PathFinder brochure, which can be viewed using the link on the right hand side of this page.
The most secure PathFinder ever
In the light of recent articles in the media about security issues with some secure protocols, we have made sure that PathFinder 5.0 is the most secure PathFinder ever. Not only does it support SSL/TLS connections up to TLS v1.2, but it also allows a minimum security level to be set globally. By default, this is set to TLSv1, which eliminates SSLv3 issues such as the POODLE bug.
However, we are also aware that are customers may not have control over the systems at their trading partners, and some may be running software rather less secure than PathFinder. Consequently, we allow exceptions to the minimum security level for individual profiles, so that having to make an exception for one trading partner does not require weakening the system as a whole.
For customers still using 1024-bit self-signed certificates for AS/2, OFTP2 and other secure file encryption and decryption, we would recommend changing these certificates to ones with at least 2048 bits. This can be done using the new certificate generation functions in the certificate manager, which allow you to create a self-signed certificate or CSR to be sent to a certificate authority with the right size private key and data fields.
High Availability module for busy systems
PathFinder 5.0 also contains the new High Availability module, which is available as an additional module. This allows the use of multiple PathFinder servers running off the same MySQL database, which can itself be clustered. There are two main uses for this, performance and redundancy.
First, it can be used to increase the performance of an existing PathFinder server by load sharing, to share the processing load over two or more machines instead of having to upgrade the existing server. Secondly, it allows for redundancy - should there be a hardware failure with one server, the other will continue processing the load without interruption or manual intervention. It would also allow service pack upgrades without interruption, as one server at a time could be taken out of service and upgraded (note that full version upgrades will still need a service outage to complete).
SFTP as standard
For some time now we have supplied our customers when requested with SFTP scripts which can be run from PathFinder to send and receive files using SFTP. In PathFinder 5.0, these are no longer required - PathFinder has SFTP built in, along with an extension to the existing SSL certificate manager to allow it to generate and manage SSH keys. PathFinder supports logins using either passwords, SSH keys or both.
New datastore module for long term data archiving
Due to both internal requirements and national or international legislation, companies are finding that they have to store electronic messages for longer periods. Although PathFinder already had the ability to store different documents for different periods before being cleaned up, there are obviously issues with storing large amounts of data for periods of years in the main production database. The solution to this is the PathFinder datastore module.
This stores long term data in a separate MySQL database that can be either on the same database server or a completely separate one. There is complete control per document type on whether data is moved to the datastore, after what point it is moved and how long it is then kept in there before final deletion. The data in the store is accessed through the same archive screen as the existing production system, with a simple option that allows the datastore to be included in any search, so no separate login is required. In this way the size and performance of the production PathFinder database and the ease of viewing data can be maintained, while still handling business and legal requirements for long-term data storage.
Better performance during cleanup
We have been aware for some time that during the cleanup period, PathFinder server performance is affected and in particular incoming files are slowed considerably. As part of a continual drive for higher availability, database tables in PathFinder 5.0 have been reworked to remove this limitation, and there are no longer issues with file processing or communications during cleanup periods.
Support for SAP Unicode ports
Although PathFinder 4.2 brought in support for Unicode files, there was one exception to that functionality - it still only supported the non-Unicode SAP ALE transfer ports. That exception has now been closed, and PathFinder can connect to either non-Unicode or Unicode ALE ports as required. We would recommend in future that all new ports are set up as Unicode ports in SAP whether or not this is an immediate requirement, as it prevents any possible problems in this area in the future. The non-Unicode ports will continue to be supported, so there are no issues during a 5.0 upgrade.
As usual, a number of other areas of functionality have been added and issues addressed in this version - for fuller details of these, please see the release notes.
The server files are now available for download on our extranet. As normal, our advice for a full version PathFinder upgrade is to recommend a consulted upgrade, which also allows the option of on or off-site training on the new features.
Pathfinder 5.0 webinar
We are offering a free webinar to demonstrate the new features of PathFinder 5.0 and to allow questions on the new features. These will last about an hour in total. Please contact us using the contact form on this website or directly to book a session.
All existing PathFinder users are, as usual, entitled to the 5.0 upgrade software free of charge. This being a major version, we recommend the use of Orion Consulting Services for this particular upgrade, as there are a large number of changes to the product. For more information, or to organise your upgrade, please contact Orion.