Modernization of IBM i Legacy Applications

Posted by Sol De Leon on Nov 26, 2013 10:34:00 PM


Modernization of IBM i Legacy Applications - What does this mean for you?

The IBM i has a large installed base of legacy applications that are written in RPG and Cobol with green screens.  These applications are performing core functions for many companies. They were written well before the explosion of the internet, the cloud or mobile devices.Best practices planning

Companies using these applications are under constant pressure to modernize their functionality, look and feel. Many new requirements have evolved in the past decade, and IT departments are expected to provide a wider variety of information to cater for increased demand by users. In addition, there is pressure to accommodate an ever-growing range of mobile devices while balancing concerns over security.  See: The Most Destructive, Unpredictable Force in Tech

The IBM i cost-of-ownership is far smaller than that of Linux/Oracle or Windows/SQL server. Management are reluctant to change to these other platforms, or to applications perceived as being more "modern", due to the huge costs involved and disruption to business. They see real benefit in maintaining their existing investment in the IBM i and modernizing their applications to meet new demands. Their current hardware is reliable with more than enough performance to meet expected growth for the next couple of years.

The issue is one of software.

Modernization has evolved from simple screen scrapers (“One line of code will convert your green screens to web pages”) to “download our web tool and create your mobile apps”. They make all kinds of promises “You need no HTML, no JavaScript, no CSS, no PHP, no Java and no Objective C". However these so called quick and inexpensive paths to cloud and mobile solutions, ignore the need to add new functionality and work flows.  

What is needed is an experienced partner with a track record of modernization in different industries that will guide the IT team to a successful result.

In the corporate world, when it comes to making the decision to hire professional services, many companies rely on past experience of internal project implementation. There is a reluctance to hire external service professionals when a capable internal IT department exists. The danger of this approach is that it tends to lead to a replication of existing work flows with added mobile screen support. There is a lost opportunity in replicating what you do now and only adding mobile device support.

Professional services consultants work with a wide range of organizations facing different situations.  As a result, they develop a strong understanding of an industry’s “Best Practices” which can be used to help companies solve their problems and meet their specific business objectives.  

Assistance by someone familiar with IBM i business processes optimization, will prove invaluable by exposing IT staff to innovations and procedures derived from modernization best practices.

The cost of implementing a long-term strategic modernization project, with professional guidance from a partner who knows the pitfalls, is small in comparison to the investment in the IBM i. There is a growing list of organizations that have asked their IT departments to launch modernization projects. Only too late they discover a host of issues they did not anticipate. The message is “do not try to do this on your own”.

Hear it from customers and partners first hand:

Raul Fernandez, IT Roll Outs Coordinator, Fluidra, S. A., Spain

"In Fluidra we decided to modernize our iSeries green screen applications to provide the look and feel of the graphical environment and looksoftware was the chosen solution .

looksoftware’s Professional Services helped us to create in just a couple of weeks an environment on which users could work with the new GUI and experience the feeling that they were working on a new application. The project also gave us the necessary training so that from the IT department we are self-sufficient to maintain and improve the initial solution.

We hired looksoftware’s Professional services  for a second time, to bring the initial solution to web, and again, in just one week , we were able to tailor the same application created before to run on PC and adapted it to run on any web browser .

 Thanks to looksoftware’s professionalism, we were able to bring an application with a look of the 80s into a "new" application with a modern look in record time and we have also acquired the knowledge necessary to maintain / improve it in a very short time ."

"En Fluidra nos planteamos modernizar nuestras aplicaciones sobre iSeries en pantalla verde para ofrecer el look and feel del entorno gráfico y LookSoftware fue la solución escogida.

 Los servicios profesionales de lookSoftware nos ayudaron a crear en tan sólo un par de semanas un entorno sobre el que los usuarios podían trabajar con la nueva interfaz gráfica y experimentar la sensación de que estaban trabajando sobre una nueva aplicación. Durante el proyecto también nos dieron la formación necesaria para que desde el departamento de IT seamos autosuficientes para mantener y mejorar la solución inicial.

Por segunda vez consecutiva, contactamos con los servicios profesionales de lookSoftware para convertir la solución inicial al web y otra vez, en tan sólo 1 semana, fuimos capaces de adaptar la aplicación creada para correr en PC a una aplicación adaptada para correr en cualquier web browser.”


 Justo Alonso Cil, Developer, Porspan Software

“Not hiring them at the beginning was our mistake. To be a developer, not just for the System I, but for graphic  environments, does not give you credentials to deliver a successful modernization project.  Not hiring them made us invest many weeks to modernize our ERP application.  As partners, we had the opportunity to work in other customers projects with looksoftware’s Professional Services personnel, we saw our mistake and how in very few days, it is possible to have a version of an application ready to  be deployed. In Porspan we decided to discard most of what we did with our application (hours, days invested, lost) and we started  again.  Our new version is also easier to maintain.  The first time you hire looksoftware’s Professional Services you think they are expensive. The following contracts you know they represent savings to your company ” . 

“No contratarlos fue un error por nuestra parte.  Ser un desarrollador, incluso en entornos gráficos, no te capacita para llevar a cabo  de forma eficiente un proyecto de modernización. No contratarlos implicó invertir muchas semanas en el proyecto de modernización de nuestro ERP. Cuando, por nuestro trabajo como partners,  participamos en proyectos de terceros junto al personal de looksoftware, vimos nuestro error y cómo era posible disponer en pocos días de una versión preparada para poner en producción.  Por nuestra parte, rehicimos nuestro proyecto, descartamos la mayor parte del trabajo hecho (horas, días de trabajo perdidos). Nuestra nueva versión es, además, más sencilla de mantener.”   

 “La primera vez que contratas servicios de looksoftware piensas que el precio está fuera del mercado. Las siguientes, sabes que es un ahorro”. 

Sol De Leon

Sol De Leon
Channel Manager - The Americas, looksoftware

looksoftware free assessment of your IBM i applications

Topics: RPG Open Access, Application Modernization, Application Integration