Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, John Esposito

Related Topics: IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud: Article

Modernizing Legacy iSeries Systems

Leverage, evolution, and flexibility are key

IBM iSeries systems are installed in an estimated 250,000 organizations. If yours is one of them, then most likely your group is either interested in or committed to modernization, which could mean you wish to enhance the user interface while maintaining the existing core business logic, or to integrate data on an AS/400 with Windows-centric, SQL-based back-office applications, or to implement a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and offer Web services to better serve your customers and your enterprise's own competitiveness.

Whatever the level of modernization you are currently seeking, the existence of the iSeries presents both challenges and opportunities. The challenge is to determine the best way to bring the enterprise system into the 21st century without incurring unnecessary disruption to the business, while managing costs and achieving a reasonable timeline. The opportunity is to leverage the valuable asset that is the iSeries itself - including its reliability, performance, ease of use, and familiarity - along with the associated assets in existing data, developer-born applications, and staff expertise.

The options for modernization are many. To evaluate and select among the possibilities, an articulated set of goals and an awareness of the assets to be leveraged and preserved will be valuable. These goals and assets are interrelated, in the sense that among your goals, it is important to consider the ability to maximize iSeries assets. You may consider these assets in terms of the literal building blocks of the system: RPG programs, CL programs, DDS display, print files, data files, and so forth. For a more enterprise-wide perspective, however, also consider your assets in terms of the "four pillars" of an organization's IT "ecosystem." These are:

  1. The people (your existing programming staff, including RPG programmers, C# people, VB folks, and so forth, as well as anyone else who interacts with, is affected by, or has expertise in the system AND the company's business)
  2. The applications (which represent the sum total of your company's IT existence, and are often complex and comprehensive - but whose value erodes when they are not readily extended to other applications, interfaces, and Web services)
  3. The processes (which depend on IT technologies for support, and benefit from leaner, integrated methodologies - but these require change and adaptation throughout the organization)
  4. The data (both on the iSeries and on Windows-based or any other system you may already have)
Each of these categories of asset is important not only to the iSeries system but to the organization as a whole. Each represents an investment that can be either lost, preserved, or enhanced through the modernization initiative. All four merit careful consideration as to the way they may be impacted by, respond to, or contribute to the changes you are considering.

With this insight into your organization, your goals, and your assets, you can begin to consider the modernization options, ideally without becoming mired in the plethora of possibilities.

Java/WebSphere or .NET?
Although this oversimplifies the situation, the looming question at the outset is whether to proceed with a Java/WebSphere solution or to consider an alternative - that is to say, .NET - for your Web/SOA realm. IBM's original iSeries Developer Roadmap was certainly intended to steer iSeries shops toward a Java-centric future. The disadvantages to this route, however, have proven so great that even IBM has backed off from its insistence on Java/WebSphere and begun to recognize a role for third-party solutions.

For large enterprises that can bear the risk and costs of Java projects, the Java/WebSphere route may make sense. For small and midrange companies (which make up the majority of OS/400 shops), budget, staff, and time considerations require them to be more circumspect. They must consider alternatives that decrease the risks and costs of switching to an unfamiliar language, retraining or hiring new programmers, and rewriting reams of code.

Microsoft's .NET platform has emerged as an alternative modernization path for iSeries shops that are looking for a faster, less expensive, and less cumbersome route. Adoption of .NET is particularly of interest to companies that are implementing Web services and SOA. In addition, because it embraces many programming languages, it provides flexibility and advantages in terms of cost and staff considerations - developers can use whatever language is most appropriate for them and the project.

The Options
Although Java/WebSphere and .NET are the routes of choice for many enterprises that are undertaking modernization of iSeries systems, these are not the only alternatives. All of the following are means by which an organization can achieve a degree of modernization (or at least the veneer of it):

  • Replace or rewrite applications
  • RPG/400 emulation
  • RPG/400 screen scrape
  • Host-based ad hoc
  • Migration to Java/C#
  • RPG portfolio transformation
In reality, these options are not mutually exclusive. An organization will choose the path that is best for the job and for the enterprise, and sometimes that means a combination of alternatives. This may mean the use of DB2/400 databases, SQL databases, Windows Servers, and IBM iSeries eServers in any combination according to requirements and goals.

More Stories By Mike Marlowe

Mike Marlowe leads the pre-sales team at ASNA as a pre-sales engineer andWindows and Web development trainer specializing in both .NET- and COM-based technologies. Mike is instrumental in educating prospects on ASNA's technology message as well as assisting with conceptual applicationplanning and development. Mike also assists with developing and deployingASNA's training curriculum.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, explained how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-ti...
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...