What is modernisation?

To us, it’s Innovation, plus a lot, lot more…

As we have already mentioned in our previous articles, perceptions are that the IBM i is something old and out-dated,  but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It still gets referred to as an AS400, which of course went out of fashion nearly 20 years ago.

At Logicmate, our aim is to empower, guide and advise businesses on modernising their IBM i systems, and to develop new web & mobile applications, by offering a range of intelligent IBM i software solutions for today’s world. 

As promised we’re continuing our dialogue on the topic ‘What is Modernisation?’. 

Whether you develop, package or modernise, when considering the future for your IT systems, with all options, it has to be aligned with what the business’ needs, otherwise it will fail! (full stop). The next thing is to look at the options:  

Develop & rewrite the system 
Package application – throw away the old and implement a new system
Transformation (Modernisation).
Logicmate System Output Solutions with InterForm
Do you think the odds of a 50% success rate is good enough when implementing a new IT strategy, that’s ignoring the costs?

Our belief is that using a transformation strategy is less risky, less costly and more successful, than the other options. It allows you to take the good, replace the bad and leaves you with a solution for the future and an infrastructure that gives you flexibility and a freely available resource skillset.

It’s……Up to date Technology

Have you considered using web services within your systems? IBM has created a web service wizard, where you can simply turn an RPG program into a web service (there are many other options). You can use these to integrate your systems and data with others. It’s easy enough to do. What about security?  I hear you ask. Then talk to an IBM i security expert – there are lots around – I know a little but they know a lot.  IBM has one of the most robust and secure servers available, it’s all possible, so why not use it, but please do contact us, we’ll find a way of helping. 

Any modern system has to integrate with others. Most clients I speak to don’t just have one system and one server anymore, they have a much wider-reaching network and require better integration.

It’s….Future Systems Generation

If you want to attract new systems staff (old and young), there are two schools of thought. You can employ people with the skills required for your current systems or you can introduce new technologies into your system with new people using new skills – a mixture of both would be ideal!

I have spoken with many clients who have found a diminishing pool of RPG programmers.  We’ve worked them so hard over the years, most of them have retired, so it’s quite a challenge to find the right person, with the right skills. Some have trained new staff in RPG and managed to build the team that way, however, these are few and far between. 

Younger talent is looking at other computer languages (mostly open-source), and you only need to Google popular computer languages to find out that what you need is not there! But don’t worry, IBM i have also thought about this too – you can run open source products on your IBM i (very easily), giving you the option to use more popular languages like Python, PHP, Nodejs and lots more. 

The language with rising popularity is Javascript – don’t get confused by the name, it’s not Java, it’s like Jam and Jamaica, they are very different. Javascript was traditionally a programming language used in web pages (client-side) to run in the browser and make the web pages “funky”. Now Javascript can be used on the server-side as well as the client-side – this is what they call Nodejs. This is what all the new kids on the block are using. It’s been number one in the most popular programming languages since 2012. 

It’s not your typical language used in commercial software applications, it doesn’t use strongly defined variables like we are all used to in the RPG world, and it’s an event-driven language, so typically the application doesn’t wait for you, it just carries on with the next event (you need to understand what callbacks are all about – that’s a topic for another day). 

There is light at the end of the tunnel with Profound Logic’s PJS framework (I mentioned Profound Logic in my previous article).  We are business partners with Profound Logic and I believe that they have some super products. PJS is a product that provides you with a framework for you to develop Nodejs (server-side javascript), on the IBM i for producing commercial applications.

Conclusion

So when we talk about modernisation, I believe that we are talking about ourselves and our organisations, not the IBM i itself, that’s ready and waiting. We should focus more on integration and technologies that are out there, not just the ones we know about.

These are my opinions, however, I’d like you to engage and let me know what you think (good or bad, but be gentle).

All in all, it’s well worth investigating some of the more recent offerings on the IBM i and get in touch with new technologies and new people.

Get in touch, we’d love to help put together a business case for modernisation. 

Tracy Eastwood