What is (or isn’t) IBM i Modernisation?

noun…The process of modernising 

This article follows on from my previous IBM i modernisation article in October 2019, where I started a discussion on “What is Modernisation?”

I think, to start off, we have to be clear. The term modernisation tends to give the impression that we are upgrading something or replacing something old for something new – this couldn’t be further from the truth, so maybe we should use a different title altogether?

The thing is, IBM has a history of not taking anything away – well almost anything (apart from encryption vulnerabilities and old versions of Java etc..). To give an example, I have a client who uses the IBM i System/36 environment, and it still works for them – there are a few others too that I know about.

We still have the “Green Screen” 5250 environments available to us (“hurray” I hear you say!). Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for somethings, and has many data entry and “keying in” advantages in certain environments, but it’s not exactly state of the art.

None of this bequeaths the IBM i old fashioned, it just means we can still do old stuff too. The IBM i is a world-class modern server and it’s going to be around for a long time, at least until 2032 (according to IBM).

When we talk about modernisation, I believe we’re talking about rethinking how we use the IBM i, so that we get the best possible solution available. 

IBM has given us so much in the past to enable us to move into the browser world. It’s our own choice to still be using 5250 (not theirs). One of the most significant (in my opinion) was the release of RPG Open Access, which gave us the ability to handle input and output file access ourselves. In short, this means you need to develop or buy a file handler. A perfect example of this is Profound Logic’s PUI display file handler product. This means you can code your RPG programs in the way you have always done (no learning curve here), and design a rich text “browser” output , then use their handler to do all the clever stuff in the middle. So now you can continue to develop in RPG and create wonderful and rich browser applications. There is also a lot more besides this. I may write another article about this, so watch this space…..

Once we have moved into a browser world, things open up dramatically. You can now spin-off to other applications anywhere in the world and integrate your solutions with others running on other platforms. It’s not just about look and feel, it’s about functionality – real modernisation in my opinion!

I believe modernisation is all about exploring all the options available to us, and rethinking how we develop our systems using the wonderful technology we have underneath our pedal. We also need to take a look at what we have, and how to improve it’s capability and integration options. 

I’m going to be exploring further the subject  ‘Modernisation’ – so watch out for my next article.

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