Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, XebiaLabs Blog, Cloud Best Practices Network

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
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, will discuss the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information,
China Unicom exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, in November 2016. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE FDD, TD-LTE), fixed-line broadband, ICT, data communica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Auditwerx will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Auditwerx specializes in SOC 1, SOC 2, and SOC 3 attestation services throughout the U.S. and Canada. As a division of Carr, Riggs & Ingram (CRI), one of the top 20 largest CPA firms nationally, you can expect the resources, skills, and experience of a much larger firm combined with the accessibility and attent...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...