As the digital transformation train gains momentum, organizations in every industry feel pressured to make sweeping changes in their enterprise IT infrastructures. The supply chain and logistics industry is no exception. This is because, from raw material production for manufacturing to food supply chains, logistics become more complex and unpredictable every day. Supply chains also suffer from a variety of challenges. These include healthcare crises, inefficiencies, wars, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and even scandals.
The turbulence of the modern-day economy, however, can be offset by technological innovations and digital transformation solutions. This is one of the main reasons why logistics tools have changed dramatically over the last decade. They follow technical advancements and the need for enterprise IT systems to meet rising market demands. As a result, thousands of organizations across the globe that rely on the IBM i platform to power their IT infrastructure need effective IBM i modernization tools to transform their IT systems and apps.
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What are the most essential technologies for successful IBM i modernization?
When it comes to IBM i modernization in supply chain and logistics, there are many effective tools and technologies to use. Here are a few of them:
One trending technology with a lot of potential in logistics and supply chain management is blockchain. Blockchain solutions can be a great way to boost your efficiency and productivity across a variety of supply chain processes. You can apply Blockchain in areas that range from contractual and logistics flows to documentation and also financial transactions.
For example, Blockchain can record information about parts, products, suppliers, warehouses, and inventory. It can also track and store documentation, financial transactions, and other types of data. In short, Blockchain solutions allow organizations to create optimized and reliable pipelines. The main advantage of blockchain technologies is that they enable decentralized and distributed enterprise data storage. This includes organizational and operational as well as transactional data exchanges between the multiple tiers of the supply chain.
REST APIs are another technology that play a key role in the digital transformation processes. APIs allow different layers of IT systems and services to communicate with each other at unprecedented levels of efficiency.
API use and development also spread quickly across IT systems and work processes. APIs can rapidly become a fundamental part of your tech and business ecosystem. They are so cost-effective to implement that they currently power a large part of our economy. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that almost every company already relies on APIs in one way or another.
According to SmartBrear’s 2020 State of API  report, interest in developing and implementing APIs is rapidly growing across all industries regardless of their size. The industries where API usage is the most widespread are IT/service, finance, banking and insurance, computer hardware, software, consumer electronics, and telecommunications.
How can REST APIs empower your IBM i modernization?
Using APIs makes it much easier for organizations to leverage the power of blockchain. For example, Microsoft and Oracle provide access to their blockchain platforms via REST APIs.
Azure Blockchain Service
Azure Blockchain Service is a fully managed ledger service that enables organizations to operate blockchain networks at scale. The platform provides unified control for both infrastructure management and blockchain network governance. This includes simple network deployment and operations and built-in consortium management as well as open and extensible design. Microsoft provides access to Azure Blockchain Service via a REST API.
Oracle Blockchain Platform on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (Hyperledger Fabric)
Alternatively, Oracle has Hyperledger Fabric, a member-governed blockchain platform for secure, real-time data sharing and trusted transactions among business partners. This solution also lets companies easily develop and deploy smart contract applications in minutes.
What are 10 powerful APIs for your modernized IBM i apps?
For reference, here are ten powerful APIs that organizations across the globe use as part of their IBM i modernization efforts. All are from Apilayer, a reputable third-party APIs provider. APIlayer is also a LANSA sister company.
- pdflayer API
- Serpstack API
- Scrapestack API
- Screenshotlayer API
- Mediastack API
- Weatherstack API
- Positionstack API
- Ipstack API
- Mailboxlayer API
- NumVerify API
What about web-enabled 5250 applications?
Web-enabled browser-based apps are another must-have in today’s business world. This is because they help businesses be more connected and adaptable to changing market demands. As you probably know, the original IBM i 5250 green screen apps don’t support a seamless transition to a web environment. IBM i also doesn’t provide the tools necessary to easily modify 5250 green screens and keep up with changing demand.
Outdated 5250 applications depend on outdated workflows that can be eliminated in favor of modern processes. Using apps based on poorly designed or outdated workflows leads to productivity losses due to error. New web-enabled apps can eliminate a lot of unnecessary processes from the old 5250 apps by including new functions and providing direct cross-platform access to these apps.
Understandably, modernizing your legacy IBM i apps may seem like a long and costly process. It can also be highly problematic. Projects can span multiple years and exceed budgets and timelines. But they don’t have to. Organizations that adopt a reasonable approach to legacy app modernization, and that also choose proper tools can implement new web apps quickly and with minimum resources.
How can Visual LANSA and RAMP help?
Visual LANSA is a low-code, rapid application development platform for building enterprise-grade mobile, web, and desktop apps. It is a key component to successfully delivering IBM i modernization projects. Visual LANSA allows organizations of all sizes to use their existing development resources to build new apps and integrate them into their IT systems.
Using LANSA’s high-level language, developers can apply the same skills to writing client-side code, server-side code, and everything in between. LANSA also saves organizations the expense of hiring costly specialized software developers to complete projects or create new apps. It also allows even developers with limited skills and experience to contribute to the app creation process without worrying about the technical aspects.
LANSA incorporates a variety of powerful tools, including several instruments created specifically for the IBM i platform. LANSA aims to make modernizing IBM i apps as easy as possible.
What is RAMP (Rapid Application Modernization Process)?
Another LANSA tool, Rapid Application Modernization Process (RAMP) takes an incremental modernization approach. RAMP combines the advantages of refacing existing applications with those of new development. By consolidating existing functionality with new capabilities inside the RAMP application framework, you get the applications you want without throwing everything away. You perform your modernization stages by incrementally introducing new functionality without disrupting business operations. Best of all, RAMP also gives you a consistent user interface across all applications.
Is using REST APIs from within Visual LANSA super easy?
The LANSA platform makes using and integrating REST APIs into new apps as easy as possible. For example, here is some sample code used to execute the Google Geocode REST API from within Visual LANSA:
Define_Com Class(#XPRIM_HttpRequest) Name(#Req) Define_Com Class(#XPRIM_RandomAccessJsonReader) Name(#Reader) #Req.DoGet Url('https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?...') * Check if request is successful If (#Req.Response.IsSuccessHttpStatusCode) * Set the JSON reader source for response from the HTTP request #Reader.SetSourceHttpResponse HttpResponse(#Req.Response) * Navigate to the 'location' object (containing the 'lat' and 'lng' values) * We'll specify a navigation path to navigate to the 'location' element * Names and indexes in a path are separated by forward slashes #Reader.BeginObjectWithPath Path('results/1/geometry/location') * Get the latitude and longitude value #Latitude := #Reader.ReadNumberWithName('lat') #Longitude := #Reader.ReadNumberWithName('lng') * Close "BeginObject" with "EndObject" #Reader.EndObject Endif
To make the integration of APIs even easier, LANSA also has extensive documentation that covers all the aspects of the process.
Want to learn more about modernizing supply chain and logistics in 2022?
If you are interested in different aspects of digital transformation and modernization in supply chain and logistics, you may also want to watch this exclusive webinar. It is called ‘Digital Transformation of Supply Chain.’ The webinar features Dr. Setrag Khoshafian, author of multiple books and academic articles, presenting and explaining the four key elements to success in digitally transforming supply chain and logistics.
You can also read our earlier posts and articles on this topic:
- Digital Transformation of Supply Chain and Logistics
- Omnichannel Modernization of ERPs and Legacies for Supply Chain
- Low Code/No Code for Supply Chains and Logistics
Ready to modernize IBM i with LANSA and aXes?
LANSA’s platform combines all the right trends in modern-day software development and digital transformation. In addition to that, it helps organizations harness the power of automation and digital transformation technologies. Overall, LANSA is the solution for organizations that need IBM i modernization and data integration quickly, reliably, and with limited developer resources. Want to find out what AS400 is used for? Check our post.
aXes is another LANSA IBM i solution. It is a tailor-made tool that automates the creation of web-enabled IBM i applications. In particular, it helps organizations easily transform their existing Synon/2E-based applications into web pages without changing source code. It also does it out of the box.
aXes includes an API that allows developers to create programs that automatically operate applications written with RPG or COBOL. In addition to that, applications can use aXes to simulate the actions of a person entering data on screens in a Synon application. This feature makes it possible to integrate existing Synon apps with .NET, Java, or 5250 applications without changing their source code. aXes also provides a wide range of automation options with versions of the API for .NET for Windows, Java for IBM i and Windows, and RPG for IBM i.
Ready to begin? If the answer is yes, then get in touch with us to start using Visual LANSA for your app development and modernization needs.