8 Myths About IBM i Application Modernization Busted

It is no news that IBM i applications are a central part of many businesses’ IT infrastructure. According to a Skillsoft report, in Q4 of 2019, this includes 92% of the worlds’ top 100 banks, 10 of the world’s leading insurers, 72% of the top 25 retailers, and 70% of fortune 500 companies. Their reliability, power, and security make IBM i applications essential for enterprises today, particularly those running data-heavy applications. Rapidly changing market conditions and customer expectations, however, mean that companies must innovate and become more agile to remain competitive. But, due to a fractured economy, most organizations cannot afford large-scale reengineering projects. As a result, they are looking to minimize risks and reduce costs by leveraging existing skills and resources with IBM i application modernization.

You probably have several business needs that require you to modernize your applications and architecture. You may need to speed up delivery to adapt quickly to market conditions. Perhaps you want to improve your user experience or lower maintenance and operational costs. Whatever your goals, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of variables involved in IBM i application modernization.

You’re not alone on this path. Most of these fears are tied to some commonly believed myths. Here are eight big ones:

  1. “Our existing IT infrastructure is good enough.”
  2. “Let’s throw more developers at the problem.”
  3. “A modernization project is too expensive right now.”
  4. “Let’s innovate without modernizing our IBM i application.”
  5. “We can incorporate modern solutions without modernization.”
  6. “We don’t need IBM i modernization to thrive under modern demands.”
  7. “Modernization reduces developer productivity.”
  8. “Modernizing can hinder our ability to scale to growing business needs.”

Is Your Existing Infrastructure Good Enough?

One of the most popular misconceptions about IBM i application modernization is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This myth feeds on the capability of the IBM i platform — its robustness, quick transaction time, and unique DB2 database. It believes that the platform, without modernization, can keep up with modern demands. However, while IBM i is great, it is also monolithic. This makes adapting it to rapidly changing market conditions extremely challenging. 

Technology is advancing at breakneck speed. This means you either keep up with the competition, or you risk going out of business. The question here isn’t “How effective is the IBM i platform?” But rather, “How successful do you want to be?”  You simply don’t want to wait for a major production disaster before beginning your IBM i application modernization. 

Can You Throw More Developers at the Problem?

Another popular misconception is that “it’s easier to hire more developers to speed up delivery.” For starters, there aren’t more developers to hire. The number of willing IBM i developers has steadily declined for the past decade. Those who developed and maintained applications in the past are either retired or nearing retirement. What’s more, young talents are reportedly heading to other languages like Java, C++, and C#. It is increasingly difficult to find quality hires in a dwindling talent pool. 

But even if you could hire more developers, it would only be a quick fix. What happens when your business needs grow beyond your existing developers? Do you hire another set of developers? This is as impractical as it is expensive and time-consuming. You would need to spend time onboarding new sets of developers every other business year. 

Can You Afford Not to Modernize?

When it comes to IBM i application modernization, many hide behind the initial investment made years ago. The common wording here is “We can’t afford additional investment yet.” They believe that the more time they can suck out of technology investment, the more value-added to the ROI side of things. But this is not remotely the case. With businesses needing to adapt faster than ever before, the real question here is, “Can you afford not to?”

Not modernizing your IBM i applications ultimately increases technical debt. This is a debt you’ll have to pay sooner or later. Technical debt is the term used to describe the challenges old systems bring to development teams trying to deliver new. needed functionality. As technology and customer expectations develop, IT teams are under increasing pressure to deliver applications faster. Often, teams running on legacy systems take the shortest approach to keep up with the required development pace. 

Think of it as borrowing money. Until you pay your debt, you keep accumulating interest. It’s ok to take shortcuts to deliver projects faster — at least until new needs arise.  The problem comes when you need to innovate and integrate your legacy applications. It is time-consuming, expensive, and tedious. In a world where speed is the name of the game, you can’t afford that. Worst of all, are the high maintenance costs we haven’t even discussed yet.

Can You Innovate without IBM i Application Modernization?

There’s also a misconception that you can innovate without modernizing your IBM i. Every organization wants a competitive edge. But, businesses must rapidly respond to both employee and customer demands. This means that organizations must continuously innovate to keep up with the speed of business while allowing room for added creativity. 

The reality is that trying to innovate without modernizing IBM i applications is a real struggle. This is due to its monolithic structure, increasing technical debt, and high maintenance costs. 

Speaking to companies about their business challenges, they tell us that they want to compete with organizations already adopting new technologies, but they have leapfrog innovations they want to deliver. They see technology as a way of doing that. But they face an uphill battle with their existing systems, and they need an IBM i application modernization plan to move forward. There are no shortcuts in the long term,

Can You Incorporate Modern Solutions Without IBM i Application Modernization?

Today, most enterprise software relies on third-party solutions to provide business value. This happens either through APIs or direct integration. To be more efficient, businesses often leverage this third-party software and  APIs to perform specific tasks like authenticating users and tracking transactions. This allows them to focus on their core business needs. In most cases these modern solutions involve integration.

Integrating legacy infrastructure, however, is difficult due to compartmentalized and siloed data systems. Modernization allows you to integrate custom solutions. Moreover, integration is not as difficult as you think.

How Can You Remain Competitive?

Another misconception is that modernization is not necessary to thrive in a competitive market. The last couple of years under COVID-19, have made this easy to debunk. The pandemic changed the way businesses interact with their customers and exposed the security limitations of outdated systems. If anything, the COVID crisis has clarified the consequences of not adapting to market conditions. Many companies had to halt operations. Those better positioned through IBM I application modernization, however, adapted quickly. 

We’ve also seen disruptive technologies come in and change the way a market operates. For example, Uber and Airbnb have changed their markets by implementing new applications, especially on mobile devices. As an IBM i user, how can you keep up with this type of competition? 

Legacy systems have a knack for binding organizations to inefficient workflows and prolonging major improvements and adaptation to market changes. Fortunately, IBM i application modernization offers a way forward.

Can Modernization Reduce Developer Productivity?

Another misconception is that modernization can stifle developer productivity by combining daily operations with modernization needs. On the contrary, IBM i application modernization involves providing the right environment for IT to build business solutions. This means ensuring your IT department and implementation teams remain effective throughout the transformation process. For a successful modernization, you need to prioritize orders and develop a structure for responding to queries as they arise. 

How Can You Scale to Growing Business Needs?

As an enterprise grows, so do its business needs. Organizations must scale to develop and deploy software faster and move toward a continuous delivery strategy. Whether it’s developing solutions to solve business problems or adding new customer features, organizations need to rapidly deliver application updates. 

For example, Amazon wasn’t profitable immediately but continued to improve systems and internal processes while expanding its product offerings. With its continuous delivery approach, Amazon deploys new software into production every 11.6 seconds. The company is now the gold standard for customer service. While you may never have to release software at the same pace as Amazon, being able to scale as your business needs grow is imperative for success. 

Simply put, it is difficult to scale with a monolithic infrastructure. It will always be a struggle to sync IT with business goals due to increasing technical debt. When business changes occur without IT’s support, users create workarounds, data stops flowing, and the core system lags. By the time IT catches up, user workarounds have turned into bad habits that are hard to break, and the business needs have changed yet again.

How Does LANSA Discredit These Myths?

LANSA has been helping enterprises kickstart their modernization journey for over 30 years. Some of the ways you can attack these myths with LANSA include:

Boost efficiency with scalability and agility.

LANSA provides numerous modernization solutions that make you more efficient through scalability and agility. Tools like aXes allow you to quickly extend your IBM i data to a graphical user interface. You can gradually add more functionality as your business needs increase. You can also become more agile with Visual LANSA, a low code modernization solution. Visual LANSA lets you develop applications 10X faster than traditional application development techniques. 

Gain greater insights

Great modernization projects begin with collecting accurate information about your existing systems. With LANSA’s professional services, you’ll gain insights into what modernization areas provide the highest business value. How you proceed depends on your overall goals and objectives.

Improve security and reduce risk

LANSA helps you optimize your security and minimize risks by allowing you to leverage the value of your existing applications and skills. Visual LANSA runs a unique single language system that allows you to use existing IBM i skills and resources to develop client-side code, server-side code, and everything in between. In addition, Visual LANSA reduces support effort and ensures security using its integrated meta-data repository and business rules engine. 

Optimize IT costs

The ability to leverage your existing developer skills to build and deploy applications faster will help you optimize your IT costs. LANSA also empowers your employees and IT with the right tools to build business solutions faster. LANSA reduces IT costs, increases developer productivity, and ultimately increases your ROI. 

Innovate faster

Industry demands to develop and deploy business solutions faster, integrate modern technology, and provide web-based rich user experiences, all under limited budget conditions, weigh heavily on the shoulders of enterprises today. LANSA offers numerous solutions that ease the burden. One of these is the ability to modernize through AI APIs. AI APIs play a crucial role in enabling organizations to innovate faster. By adding the right APIs to your IBM i applications, you can incorporate AIs that would supercharge your modernization strategy and ultimately increase ROI. See how you can integrate PWAs with powerful business processes and AI APIs, and 10 APIs that can supercharge your digital transformation.

Ready For An IBM i Application Modernization Journey?

IBM i applications are vital to the business operations of many enterprises today. But evolving customer expectations, new technology entrants, and changing market conditions put IBM i applications under increasing pressure. IBM i users must modernize to better position them to adapt to these changes. However, numerous myths hinder IBM i application modernization. Don’t believe the hype — you can thrive with the right strategy and modernization tools. 

You can leverage tools like aXes and Visual LANSA to gain quick wins and win company-wide buy-in for a modernization project. Contact us to speak to an expert.

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