Top 10 Areas for IBM i Modernization

Jul 29, 2021 Rima Dutta

Application Systems 400, a.k.a AS400, was first introduced by IBM in the year 1988. Three decades, and the mighty IBM i system is still sheltering mission-critical tasks of industries across different verticals. While performance and agility have never been much of a concern, the aging & archaic phenotype of AS400 might prove to be the weak link in this tug of war between performance & user satisfaction.

Will AS400 Modernization Really Solve Your Problems?

To answer this, we’d like your cerebral participation.

A system that’s been in the industry for the longest time. Has handled & managed tons of data files, propelled organizations towards digitalization at a time when the core concept of it was alien to the masses and witnessed modern applications grow off the cradle. Can you think of more beastly of a combination than AS400’s performance threshold & modern application’s aesthetic values?

IBM i Modernization: Our Top 10 Picks

  1. 5250 green-text Screens: Letters in green-text against a black screen, that’s what AS400 users look at for 8+ hours during work. Modernizing the interface can be extremely beneficial to the overall productivity as it directly targets the cognitive comfort of users. There’s a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to AS400 front-end modernization.
  2. IBM Hardware: The IBM i hardware incurs an additional expense that equates to drilling a big fat hole in the fund wallet. Furthermore, the hardware constitution makes the entire system susceptible to damage by physical accidents. By shifting from a physical infrastructure to the indigenous AS400 Cloud, organizations will step up the relevancy ladder.
  3. On-prem: Data & the degree of freedom you have to access it anytime, anywhere is a major factor that determines the fluidity in the workflow. Modernizing this front enables organizations to extend the accessibility of the AS400 to web and mobile.
  4. Columnar RPG: It is the primary programming language of IBM’s midrange product line and even after years of technological evolution of the machine, many enterprises are still riding the old wave. Modernizing the archaic code to fit into the mold of a 3-tier modern code can ease the development pipeline for your IT team.
  5. DDS: DDS or Data Description Specifications is the old school repository that is still used by a number of enterprises. This holds a lot of redundancy for which organizations need to channelize extra programming efforts. A better, sensible option is to convert the DDS physical files to SQL (Structured Query Language).
  6. Traditional IT: With each day, the tech industry is sprinting towards a heavily automated environment. It is survival of the fittest and systems and processes that deliver services & applications at a higher velocity, wins. By replacing the lineal IT setup with DevOps i.e., a contemporary combination of software development and IT operations, enterprises scale up their output without necessarily altering the existing undertakings.
  7. Single Repository: Instead of the traditional single repository that AS400 systems come with, options like GitHub, BitBucket, etc. make the process of data handling and management smoother. They bring with them powerful new functionalities like version control, schedule release, access control and third-party integrations.
  8. Fixed Form: Streamline the workflows for your in-house IT team by converting ILE RPG code from fixed form to free form RPG. With a modern RPG stack in place, the code can be specified as a free form statement rather than in specific fixed columns, which further makes it easier to code, maintain & understand, thereby collectively saving the time and efforts of the development team.
  9. Batch Jobs: While AS400 juggles multiple mission-critical tasks, a significant number of routinelymenial jobs also piggyback on the system. By migrating jobs out of the AS400 to Cloud, organizations can save big time on probable maintenance costs while simultaneously can get better insights on the jobs, now that they are on Cloud.
  10. AS400 Automation: RPG when coupled with RPA can do wonders, especially to the routinely processes of your in-house IT teams. AS400 automation is the single stop solution to some of the most common tech challenges like delayed resolutions, poor resource management, faulty monitoring, etc.

Post Modernization Gains

  • Efficiency – A palpable shift in efficiency is observed when organizations lace their classic AS400 with modern attributes.
  • Availability – With access to mobile & web, the availability of the otherwise confined AS400 expands.
  • User Satisfaction – When green-text screens are replaced with modern UX, the user satisfaction quotient escalates.
  • Relevancy - With add-ons that facilitate the existing workflows, enterprises running on the AS400 continue to stay relevant in all the years coming forward.

Plan of Action

Below, we have laid out the most effective five-step plan of action.

  • Understand requirements – We understand that “Modernization” is subjective to businesses and that’s why while creating a P-O-A, we emphasize understanding the demands from the AS400 system and the business model that it shoulders.
  • System Assessment – A thorough round of system assessment to get a better understanding of the vulnerabilities, areas that’d undergo major changes post modernization and discuss the risks, if any.
  • Modernization Plan – Once the assessment part is taken care of, the team spearheading the modernization project along with the in-house IT authorities can chalk out the best possible plan to accomplish the pre-defined goals.
  • Implementation – This is where all the planning and strategizing come to life. This move involves a number of subsets like development of programmes, end-to-end testing, documentation and finally making things live.
  • Support & Maintenance – Assessment to implementation, is considered as phase one of any project. It is after the execution that the prolonged phase two or the “Support & Maintenance” phase begins. Here, the support team provides real-time assistance and takes care of any bug that might emerge.

How can we help?

Wherever you are on this journey of AS400/iSeries modernization, our team of experts can help you break the rut that’s hindering your vision from becoming a reality. From consultation to conceptualizing a blueprint for modernization to the post-implementation support calls, we’ve been with several AS400 organizations, helping them put their best foot forward.

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Rima Dutta

Made my favourite sandwich using the best of both worlds - Technology & Writing. The girl next door who talks to the camera, cries watching K-dramas and has an unhealthy obsession with momos & fictional characters.